Heart failure alert cards play a positive role in promoting continuity of care

The results of a recent project outline the key role that patient-held alert cards play in promoting continuity of care for heart failure patients.

The CLAHRC GM heart failure alert card is a simple, credit card size identification tool which patients under the care of the community heart failure specialist nurses (CHFSNs) team at University Hospital South Manchester can show to hospital staff. The aim of the card is to improve multi-professional input into heart failure patients’ admission, inpatient care and discharge.

Patients with heart failure managed by CHFSNs may have episodes of (often unrelated) ill-health managed separately in hospital. Inadequate communication and multi-disciplinary working between these different providers can impact on the effectiveness of care.

A recent service improvement project has explored further the potential of patient-held alert cards to improve communication and continuity of care for heart failure patients moving between CHFSNs and hospital settings.

The project demonstrated that a patient held alert card can improve communication and coordination between CHFSNs and hospital staff, and empower patients and families. However, the project found that because of the fragmented nature of healthcare services, other innovative solutions also need to be developed and tested to improve continuity of care for patients.

Professor Christi Deaton, Clinical Lead for the CLAHRC GM heart failure projects, said: “The heart failure alert cards were developed with input from patients and providers. Patients felt empowered with the cards as they thought that hospital staff would take their heart failure diagnosis more seriously. In some cases, the CHFSNs were more involved in decisions about admission, treatment and discharge planning than previously. Coordination, communication and multi-disciplinary working across services remain challenges, and we will continue to work with patients and providers to find strategies to improve these.”

Read the full version of ‘The role of patient-held alert cards in promoting continuity of care for Heart Failure Patients’ as published in the European Journal of Cardiology Nursing.