Follow-up plan for heart patients to save hospital HK$12m a year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2007, 12:00am

Eastern Hospital has launched a programme to improve follow-up care for patients of congestive heart failure, in a move expected to save the hospital HK$12 million a year.

Loretta Yam Yin-chun, the Hospital Authority's Hong Kong East cluster chief, said yesterday a multidisciplinary team was set up at the hospital last month to provide better post-discharge management plans, re-admission risk assessment, counselling and education for patients who suffered congestive heart failure.

When a patient has the condition, his or her heart cannot pump enough blood through the body normally. Patients may suffer shortness of breath when walking too fast or exercising too much.

Dr Yam said the disease was particularly concerning because it resulted in the third most admissions to public hospitals.

In 2005, Eastern Hospital admitted 2,433 congestive heart failure patients, or about 7 per cent of its total admissions.

On average, each patient stayed 6.7 days.

'The re-admission rate of the congestive heart failure patients is very high, about 60 per cent,' Dr Yam said.

'This is unhealthy for both the patients and the hospital. Therefore, we try to reduce re-admission by strengthening re-admission risk assessment and patient education.'

Dr Yam said patients were re-admitted because they might not have stuck with medication or diet requirements; had inadequate discharge planning or follow-up; or failed to seek medical attention promptly when symptoms recurred and called an ambulance only in emergency.

The new team of 10 includes cardiologists, geriatricians, an ambulatory care physician and cardiac nurses.

It will educate the patients on their diet and self-care at home, and call them regularly to get an update on their health.

Community outreach services and appropriate medical intervention will also be provided.

'Many re-admissions are actually preventable,' Dr Yam said.

'We hope that the home follow-up programme can cut the re-admission rate in half and in turn save the hospital about HK$12 million a year.'

A new training centre equipped with a state-of-the-art simulated operating room, a surgical virtual reality laboratory and lecture theatres will be set up next month.

The hospital will also open a Chinese medicine clinic early next year. In addition to general consultation and medication, acupuncture and other treatments will also be provided.