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Encouraging effective cardiac rehabilitation: an update on the PATHway project

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of premature death (30% of all deaths) and disability in Europe and worldwide, costing the EU economy almost EUR 196 billion a year. Effective Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) can significantly improve mortality and morbidity rates, leading to longer independent living and a reduced use of health care resources.

PATHway is a Horizon 2020, large scale European project (around €4.8 Million), which started February 2015. The Consortium is composed with 8 partners from 7 different countries and Dr Kieran Moran from Insight @DCU is the Project Coordinator.

PATHway is a platform based on a personalised cardiac rehabilitation programme that uses the internet, sensor-based technology and behavioural change theory to allow patients to participate in rehabilitation exercise classes from the comfort of their own home, either by themselves or in small groups of remote participants (www.pathway2health.eu).

The PATHway labs have been a hive of activity over the past few months in the run up to the release of the first PATHway prototype (July-M18)!

Prior to the first prototype release in July, there was a sizeable amount of development work happening in the background to  ensure patient satisfaction, adherence with the PATHway platform and intervention content. Previous research has found that  patient adherence to digital health behaviour change interventions can vary depending on the level of user involvement in the co-production phase (West & Michie, 2016). Therefore, PATHway approached the intervention design phase with an intensive, iterative, user-driven process. This is an integral element of any digital health behaviour change intervention and PATHway has made co-design a key priority; with high levels of co-operation between both technology and clinical partners needed to facilitate this dynamic process.

From the technical side, PATHway progress is offering numerous achievements. Currently, the PATHway platform is capable of: a) capturing and analysing the patient exercising by utilising low-cost sensors; b) tracking and analysing the vital signs of the patients in real-time with cutting-edge technologies, while, c) using this data to make important decisions about the CVD patient’s exercise programme and behavioural change notifications and feedback without supervision through the Decision Support System (DSS). d) The raw information as well as the extracted analytics are stored into the cloud for further processing and research. Finally, PATHway consists of e) a user-friendly 3D environment that allows the patient to perform exercises in as part of an class (ExerClass) or game (ExerGame).

The PATHway demo is online at http://www.pathway2health.eu/demos/