The Health Policy Partnership (HPP) and Heart Valve Voice Canada have released a new report, Heart valve disease: working together to create a better patient journey, and an accompanying summary leaflet. The report presents the ideal patient journey for people with heart valve disease and highlights current gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care across Canada.
Heart valve disease is a serious but treatable condition that affects over one million Canadians. Prevalence and hospitalisations are on the rise, yet awareness is still low: only 3% of Canadians over the age of 60 are aware of aortic stenosis, the most common type of heart valve disease. There are proven, effective treatments for heart valve disease and the optimal patient journey has been well defined in international guidelines, yet late diagnosis and treatment, and variations in care, are still common.
The patient journey has five stages: awareness; detection in primary care; diagnosis via echocardiogram; referral, work-up and monitoring; and treatment and long-term follow-up. The report sets out policy priorities at each stage of the journey, as well as five overarching recommendations for all stages:
- Embedding patient education and shared decision-making in all stages of care.
- Configuring care around dedicated multidisciplinary heart valve clinics and teams.
- Facilitating the integration of digital and remote technologies into care.
- Investing in data collection and research on heart valve patient-centred outcomes.
- Reducing inequalities in access to all components of heart valve care.