The latest meeting of the City-Labs Talk Series “Tackling Heart Failure in Europe: Accessing Innovation & Fostering Integrated Care” took place on September 11th, 2019. The event was organised by the City-Labs team to discuss how to improve care to tackle the burden of heart failure, from diagnosis and prevention to reduction of risk of death throughout integrated care models and solutions.
Why heart failure care is so important for public health? Heart failure is a common condition which occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for oxygen and important nutrients. At least 15 million people live with heart failure in Europe and one in five people can expect to live with heart failure at some point in their life. Heart failure accounts for 5% of all acute hospital admissions in Europe and is the leading cause of hospitalisation in people over the age of 65. As pointed out by the moderator of the debate, Brandon Mitchener (Instinctif Partners), the burden of heart failure is rising due to an ageing population, and health care systems need to get ready to tackle this issue quickly.
The meeting provided an opportunity to present the Handbook of the Heart Failure (HF) Policy Network (Health First Europe’s member), designed to drive policy changes that could make a meaningful difference to care for people living with heart failure. Ed Harding, representing the HF Policy Network, stressed the great physical and psychological burden that heart failure represents for European citizens and health systems. Mr Harding explained that integrated management and multidisciplinary care are essential to provide optimal heart failure care. Multidisciplinary and integrated care is about delivering the best care possible through care plan with a focus on the needs of the individual patient at each stage of their condition. Regular follow-up, access to advanced treatments, psychosocial support, therapeutic education, continuous assessment and regular medication/device review are the essential features of an optimal heart failure care.
With early diagnosis and right care, hospitalisation can be reduced by up to 30%. Yet, the number of early diagnosis remains low, people with heart failure do not see the right specialists, and few patients are followed up properly after discharge. In order to make a shift towards a multidisciplinary and integrated model of care for heart failure, the HF Policy Network calls on governments to recognise heart failure as a financial sustainability challenge for health care systems and to demonstrate measurable improvement on minimum standards.
Alex Lefevre from Roche Diagnostics Belgium presented the key challenges to access innovation for heart failure risk patients:
- Missing data and statistics on the cost effectiveness of integrated management and multidisciplinary care for heart failure
- Differences amongst hospitals in the implementation of guidelines aiming at reducing heart failure hospital readmission
- Health apps which do not fit the patients’ use and needs
Some solutions and actions to tackle these challenges were presented during the discussion, e.g. the development of tools to help doctors follow up with the different guidelines, fostering education on the monitoring and follow up tools, and take patients’ perspective into account in the development of digital solutions and apps.
Damien Gruson, coordinator of My City-Lab, emphasised the impact of heart failure on public health and public expenses: 50% of heart failure patients will die in the 5 years following their diagnosis; 1 in 4 people will be re-hospitalised within a month. Mr Gruson stressed that primary points of care, where access to laboratory tests is facilitated, are part of an integrated and collaborative approach to ambulatory care to support heart failure patients. Such point of care will give the possibility for patients to get their laboratory results in a short time, allowing health care professionals to act quickly. These settings have the advantage of gathering different medical specialities and to speed up the process to prevent and treat cardiovascular conditions.
Heart failure remains a substantial and complex challenge. Every person living with heart failure has a unique journey. Integrated management and multidisciplinary care can support patients and address the unique needs. A takeaway of the discussion is the need to recognise heart failure as an urgent challenge for health sector, requiring a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to bring a meaningful improvement in the care of people living with heart failure.
Please click here to see the pictures of the event.
My City-Lab project – financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – aims to create two new primary care structures, called My City-Lab, integrating the innovation of laboratory medicine and mobile health. The scope of the project is to facilitate access to laboratory tests as part of an integrated and collaborative approach to ambulatory care of a chronically ill individual, as well as to contribute to the dynamic monitoring of patients with chronic diseases.