Effectiveness of inpatient and outpatient strategies in increasing referral and utilization of cardiac rehabilitation: a prospective, multi-site study
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BACKGROUND: Despite the evidence of benefit, cardiac rehabilitation (CR) remains highly underutilized. The present study examined the effect of two inpatient and one outpatient strategy on CR utilization: allied healthcare provider completion of referral (a policy that had been endorsed and approved by the cardiac program leadership in advance; PRE-APPROVED); CR intake appointment booked before hospital discharge (PRE-BOOKED); and early outpatient education provided at the CR program shortly after inpatient discharge (EARLY ED).In this prospective observational study, 2,635 stable cardiac inpatients from 11 Ontario hospitals completed a sociodemographic survey, and clinical data were extracted from charts. One year later, participants were a mailed survey that assessed CR use. Participating inpatient units and CR programs to which patients were referred were coded to reflect whether each of the strategies was used (yes/no). The effect of each strategy on participants' CR referral and enrollment was examined using generalized estimating equations. RESULTS: A total of 1,809 participants completed the post-test survey. Adjusted analyses revealed that the implementation of one of the inpatient strategies was significantly related to greater referral and enrollment (PRE-APPROVED: OR = 1.96, 95%CI = 1.26 to 3.05, and OR = 2.91, 95%CI = 2.20 to 3.85, respectively). EARLY ED also resulted in significantly greater enrollment (OR = 4.85, 95%CI = 2.96 to 7.95). CONCLUSIONS: These readily-implementable strategies could significantly increase access to and enrollment in CR for the cardiac population. The impact of these strategies on wait times warrants exploration.
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