Supporting Cardiac Care Services in Australia​

For people with heart conditions that require implantable technologies, it is essential to trust their device to stay healthy and keep their hearts well.

Alongside cardiologists, cardiac technicians play a critical role (even lifesaving in some circumstances) in the management of patients with cardiac implantable devices.

Changing the way these services are accessed will have considerable negative and potentially life-threatening impact on these patients.

1 in 4 Australians in regional and rural areas suffer from cardiovascular disease, compared to 1 in 5 people in metro areas3

20% of cardiac care services are delivered in regional and remote areas of Australia4

7% increase in demand for Cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIED) in Australia each year4

About cardiac care in Australia

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia1 with cardiovascular disease the 3rd largest burden of disease2. These conditions may lead to incidents such as heart attack or heart failure and may require medical intervention, or the insertion of a cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED).

After a person undergoes a procedure to receive their CIED, they require ongoing cardiac care to monitor their condition and to maintain optimal programming of the implanted device. Depending on the treatment location, the follow-up care is provided by a cardiologist and supported by a highly-specialised cardiac technician, from either the cardiac hospital team, the device manufacturer or the cardiologist staff. In Australia, 56% of cardiac care services are supplied by the Medical Technology Industry2.

These cardiac care services are required for the lifetime of a CIED and often involve regular check-ups for patients with their cardiologist and cardiac technician. Most services can be delivered directly to patients either face-to-face or via remote monitoring. As Australia’s population ages, it is expected that the demand for CIEDs and cardiac care services, especially remote monitoring, will grow.

Cardiac care services are important because they support cardiologists to improve patient outcomes through faster intervention, less time in hospital and better quality of life.

Due to their remote monitoring capabilities, CIEDs and cardiac care services are particularly essential in regional and rural areas where the rate of cardiovascular disease is higher3 and healthcare services are further away.

Twenty percent of cardiac services are currently provided in regional (19%) and remote areas (1%)4, reducing travel time and cost for patients, and reducing the impact on their treating teams, and government funded health services.

Learn more about some of our patients and their stories here

Barry was diagnosed with Bradycardia in 2012 and fitted with a pacemaker to help manage this condition. The device requires regular checking every six months, and usually gets adjusted at every check.
He worries that if his device could not be checked by a technician it could be fatal. “I need to have my device tuned perfectly. My cardiac condition changes regularly. Recently my device was checked and the information from my device indicated I needed heart surgery. I had an episode of Pacemaker Mediated Tachycardia which required urgent adjustment by the technician. I’ve also had three MRIs where a technician has to be present to adjust the Pacemaker.”

Barry is on his pension, so extra costs would mean he would struggle with buying enough food as well as paying utility bills on time. “If I had to pay to get my device checked I would probably only get it done once a year instead of every six months”, he says.

Working on a strict budget, it would very much impact the value of his health cover. “I feel completely overwhelmed by the proposed changes to funding. It’s going to make me consider opting out of private health. I’ve paid taxes all my working life and now feel completely discarded if this proposal goes ahead. I’m not feeling valued at all as a contributor to making this country a better place.”
Warren was diagnosed with sick sinus syndrome and atrial fibrillation at the age of 49 and after unsuccessful drug therapy was implanted with an implantable cardiac pacemaker (ICD).
“My devices have been checked every 6 to 9 months for the past 12 years.” Warren’s pacemaker was checked following a suspected exercise induced collapse, which resulted in the discovery of a major VT event, and emergency surgery to repair his artery. Had the pacemaker not been checked by the technician at the time, the VT would not have been found. “I would most likely would have died from the damage to the major artery. If I were not able to have my device regularly checked, this would be life-threatening. I am reliant on the information from these checks to monitor any changes to my condition particularly with my very active lifestyle and work schedule.”

Currently paying the highest possible premiums for Private Health Care, Warren says extra costs for device checks would be a financial concern, particularly as he gets older. “If I had to pay to get my implanted device checked, I believe the costs would force me to have fewer regular checks and this would no doubt leave me in danger of a serious cardiac event.”

“My insurance gives me little return on regular visits with my cardiologist as it is for procedures like stress tests and ultrasounds. If I had to make further payment for device checks I don't think there would be justified value in health cover.”
Sonia was 29 years old when she found out she had Brugada Syndrome, a rare and life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia. Following a cardiac arrest, she was diagnosed in hospital and had an implanted cardioverter defibrillator/pacemaker fitted.
“My device is checked and read through the pacemaker clinic every 6 months (unless there are events/ concerns that require me in there sooner, which does happen). Since being implanted in 2012, I have had changes made to the parameters of the device as required, as well as attending hospital to have my device read by a technician confirming if I was having irregular arrhythmias.”

“Not having a cardiac technician would mean loss of security for me, knowing what is going on with my heart at that time when it happens, rather than being checked after the event is too late; it would mean a loss of confidence in my device as check-ups assure me my device is working properly and provide assurance that I would not run into inappropriate shocks.

I would no longer be able to monitor that my device is in line with my heart's current requirements, or if the device has been disabled due to being near a magnet - which would make my device useless if I had another cardiac event, risking death.”

Sonia is concerned about extra payments and costs due to her condition and treatment, and the current financial climate. “Having the additional pressure to find money for health-related issues in a life filled with ever growing financial pressures creates stress, which is detrimental to one's health. It means that I would have to consider what alternate health care services I could potentially cut in order to afford to pay for the additional cardiac expenses. I would feel very anxious at having yet another expense when it is already so difficult on an average income trying to run a house and family.”