Heart patients in western Sydney have been empowered to make healthy lifestyle changes thanks to education being delivered in clinic waiting rooms – making use of otherwise “wasted time”.
In a randomised trial involving more than 500 people this year, two-thirds were given an electronic tablet to watch a series of educational videos about heart health tailored to their own interests while waiting to see their cardiologist at Westmead Hospital.
The results showed cardiovascular patients who watched the videos were more motivated to make healthy lifestyle changes and were also happier with their care.
Professor Clara Chow, cardiologist at Westmead Hospital and Academic Director of Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC), said the personalised videos allowed the team to cut through the overwhelming amount of information and present high-quality health advice.
“The findings of this study show that simple low-cost innovations in the clinic waiting room can improve healthcare,” Professor Chow said on World Heart Day 2021.
Half of those who participated also watched an extra video on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and reported having greater confidence to perform CPR if they found themselves in a situation where they would have to do so.
Overall, the proportion of patients who were reporting healthy lifestyle changes rose from one-in-six on the day of their appointment, to one-in-four by the time of a 30-day follow-up.
Study lead author Daniel McIntyre, a PhD candidate at WARC, said this was the first clinical trial in the world to assess the effectiveness of waiting room education for cardiovascular patients.
“Waiting time is universal in healthcare but can be better utilised,” Daniel said.
“The findings of this study are encouraging and provide a strong foundation for us to develop more ways of utilising waiting time. Harnessing the digital health expertise at WARC allowed us to personalise the intervention and reach more patients at a lower cost.”
The study was conducted by Sydney University researchers at WARC in collaboration with Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), with support from the Agency for Clinical Innovation Research Grants Scheme.
WARC is based in the Westmead Health Precinct. Its main goal is to conduct clinical and translational research to address the causes of chronic disease, particularly for patients in western Sydney.
The Westmead Health Precinct is one of the largest health, education, research, innovation and training precincts in Australia, featuring four major hospitals, four world-leading medical research institutes, two university campuses and the largest research intensive pathology service in NSW.