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Medical technology at the heart of regional health

Medical technology cardiac care
Cardiologist Dr Andre Conradie has led the set up for Bundaberg's cardiac care offerings for the past 20 years, with medical technology helping to increase access for patients in regional areas.

In regional Australia, medical technology has played a significant role in ensuring patients can access cardiac care no matter where they live.

As the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to rise nationally, the healthcare system continues to play catch up when it comes to regional cardiac care.

One in four regional Australians are living with cardiovascular disease, compared to one in five in metropolitan areas.

Cardiologist Dr Andre Conradie has led the set up for Bundaberg’s cardiac care offerings over the past 20 years.

“In my earlier days here, I would frequently see local patients needing to plan a whole day around a routine five-minute check-up,” Dr Conradie said.

“In cardiac care, patients will also often attend appointments with carers or relatives for support.

“For a single five-minute check-up you could have multiple people needing to leave their homes, their jobs and their routines to head to a completely unfamiliar city.”

Along with the rise of disease, the use of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) is also on the rise.

Compounding the higher need for cardiac services in regional and remote areas, is a shortage of technical workers in these areas.

Over 80% of cardiologists live in capital cities, meaning that many regional patients may need to travel long distances to speak to their healthcare professional.

For some of these patients, their conditions may require medical intervention or the insertion of a CIED.

After a device is implanted, ongoing care including monitoring, optimal programming and other specialised follow up care is required for the rest of a patient’s lifetime.

Designed to support a patient’s wellbeing for longer, the demand for CIEDs has grown by 7% each year.

Cardiac devices a lifeline for patients

Medical technology cardiac care
CEO and Founder of hearts4heart Tanya Hall.

CEO and Founder of hearts4heart Tanya Hall said cardiac devices were a lifeline to patients in regional areas.

“Cardiac devices, such as pacemakers, and the remote cardiac monitoring they facilitate, provide a lifeline to the one in four Australians suffering from cardiovascular disease in regional and remote areas where access to specialist care is often limited,” Tanya said.

Over half (56%) of all cardiac services are currently delivered by the medical technology companies that have provided the devices.

This ensures a continuum of care for all patients no matter where they live.

“The cardiac care services that allow for remote heart monitoring of regional and remote Australians, reduce the need for frequent in-person checks for the patient and physician and can prevent unnecessary hospitalisations, alleviating the strain on overburdened health systems,” Tanya said.

“Majority of our patients can now receive treatment right here in Bundaberg, it's looking close to 99% of my patients.

“The only times when they need to travel is for extremely specialised needs but it’s great to be able to offer this in Bundaberg.”

Dr Conradie continues to look for more ways to close the regional care gap in Bundaberg and prepare for the increase in patients that comes with an increasing and ageing population.

“Thanks to technological advancements, we are seeing better outcomes for patients in the region,” he said.

“With the right tools in hand and the right people on the team, we’ll be able to prepare for the growing number of patients.

“It’s so important that we can keep people living well with these conditions and care closer to their homes with their support networks is a part of this.”

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