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‘Carrot and stick’ approach puts heart patients in control

Toronto, February 21, 2014

By Patricia Favre

Natalee Elvie, the clinical nurse educator leading the online wellness incentive program.
Natalee Elvie, the clinical nurse educator leading the online education and incentive program. (Photo by Katie Cooper, Medical Media Centre)


To access this program, visit the St. Michael's Heart Clinic Failure page.


Most doctors will say that the Internet is the worst friend of a newly diagnosed patient. But some St. Michael’s patients and their clinicians have found a way of using it to lead healthier lives.

An online education and incentive program called BestLifeRewarded is being piloted in the cardiology unit and aims to help heart failure patients stay healthy after discharge.

“Heart failure patients can be frequent visitors to cardiology,” said Natalee Elvie, the clinical nurse educator leading the pilot. “Often, that’s because they’re having difficulty following their nutrition or treatment plan.”

Patients can enrol in this initiative after discharge with an invitation code provided by the cardiology nurses. The online program provides them with information about heart failure, medications, nutrition and tips for monitoring their health.

Once patients enrol, they can collect points by reporting on such things as healthy activities, medication refills, diet, blood pressure and weight. The points collected can then be redeemed for health-related products such as exercise equipment, grocery store gift cards and consultations with a dietitian.

Elvie explained that this new technology not only provides universal tips for heart failure patients but also helps them take their health into their hands.

“For example, the hospital teaches patients with heart failure to keep track of their weight on a daily basis to decrease the risk of fluid buildup,” said Elvie. “Knowing how their weight is changing can help them and their health care providers manage their heart failure.”

If the program proves to be successful with heart failure patients, Elvie said she hopes to roll it out to all patients across the cardiology unit.

A handful of heart failure patients are participating in the pilot. This month, the cardiology unit will conduct a blitz to raise awareness about the program to boost registration.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.