Cardiovascular care in lockdown

Cardiovascular care in lockdown

Lockdown 2.0 has provided quite a few challenges to the care of cardiovascular patients in the community. However, I have learnt a few important lessons from last year.

Excellent cardiovascular care comes from careful history, physical examination and the judicious use of testing that will alter management. I found last year that not being able to see patients face to face or examine them, often led to delays in diagnosis and timely care.

Throughout this time, we have been doing our best to communicate to referring GPs that we are happy to see patients with concerning cardiovascular symptoms, and that these patients should be seen as a priority. HealthShare has allowed me to continually engage with referring GPs and patients to get this message across.

HealthShare has provided opportunities of communicating important health information to patients, which is so important during COVID-19.

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We have found that putting off routine reviews in otherwise symptom-free patients may be a reasonable decision, but sometimes leaving things too long can lead to a later presentation in pathology.

Telehealth has also allowed routine scheduling of follow-up calls and results to be carried out in an efficient manner, allowing better monitoring of patients with more complex medical conditions.

Conversely, telehealth hasn’t been a great medium to discuss complex management decisions. I have preferred to do this face to face as there is a lot of non-verbal communication that is useful in these discussions.

Patients have appreciated the ability to touch base with their specialist more frequently, especially if they have not been able to see their GP as often as they would like.

I also found that using Telehealth or Secure Video Conferencing is a great medium to discuss diet and lifestyle in cardiovascular medicine. This has allowed me to discuss important areas without the usual time pressures of an in-room consultation and most patients have been happy to pay private billing fees for this service.

Dr Jason Kaplan is an Australian trained adult cardiologist with subspecialty training in cardiac imaging.

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