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HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Australia
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Digital engagement tool to reduce cardiac problems in Australia

The new treatment plan can assist over 300,000 Australians currently suffering from atrial fibrillation.

University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC), in collaboration with healthcare technology provider HMS and the Australian Government-funded Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC), is developing a digital engagement tool to help patients with heart condition atrial fibrillation (AF). The tool, currently in use in the US, will use digital outreach methods to improve patients’ medical and lifestyle management, monitor symptoms, and identify any potential complications of AF.

Atrial fibrillation is increasingly common in Australia, affecting 2% - 4% of the population, but many patients are missing out on recommended treatments. This new digital tool will address the issue by using multiple digital contact methods, including SMS, emails and interactive voice response (IVR) technology. These simulate a person-to-person call, and react in real time to the responses patients provide.

AF patients face a complex mix of therapies, treatment options, and lifestyle modifications. The tool helps to connect them with their GPs and provide information in a clear, engaging manner. 

“These (lifestyle) changes might include making an appointment with their GP, taking their medication, giving up smoking, becoming more physically active, and eating a healthier diet,” said professor Clara Chow, project lead and cardiologist at Westmead Hospital.

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