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Posted on 04 May 2022

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition that reduces the heart’s capacity to pump blood around the body. More than 100,000 Australians a year are affected (Australian Institute for Health and Welfare 2021), and it has a 50-75% mortality rate within five years of diagnosis. During these years, quality of life is often diminished by disability and frequent admissions to hospital.

We are partnering with IHI’s Asia Pacific team on a state-wide collaborative to improve consistency in evidence-based treatment and management of heart failure to reduce unplanned hospital readmissions and to improve quality of life for people living with heart failure. 

Heart Failure Collaborative Project Lead, Yvonne Fellner says the evidence shows there is a significant opportunity to improve the quality and consistency of treatment of heart failure in Australia. 

“Hospital admission figures show a large variation in the readmission rate for heart failure patients, which appears to result from differences in treatment and management. We also know that a follow-up outpatient appointment at 30 days post admission can reduce mortality, yet a quarter of patients are not getting this appointment in time. 

So there are some key measures we can be taking to improve and standardise heart failure treatment across the state”, says Yvonne.

Common reasons for hospital admission for people with heart failure are infection, non-adherence with medication, and non-adherence to fluid and dietary restrictions. 

An expert panel considered the current evidence on the most effective and efficient treatment and management of heart failure. The resulting package of recommended changes in practices and processes aims to improve adherence to evidence-based care. Nineteen clinical teams across Victorian hospitals are now using rapid testing cycles to test the changes and measure results in metropolitan, regional and rural hospitals. 

Project Co-director Robert Forsythe from IHI’s Asia Pacific team says the Breakthrough Series Collaborative model has been developed by IHI over 30 years and has been effective at improving patient outcomes and system efficiency for a range of chronic conditions.

“With a complex, multifactorial challenge like this, it can be difficult to know where to start. The breakthrough collaborative methodology provides a structure and quickly builds momentum across multiple sites,” says Robert.

When the project concludes at the end of 2022, the project partners expect to have achieved a significant reduction in unplanned hospitalisations for people with heart failure. This will mean people living with the condition can spend more time in the comfort of their own homes and with their families. It will also substantially reduce pressure on the Victorian health system, as heart failure patients are currently one of the highest emergency readmission diagnosis groups.

Find out more about the Heart Failure Collaborative.

Page last updated: 04 May 2022