In Europe, more than 15 million people live with heart failure (HF). It imposes an enormous social, organizational and economic burden. As a reaction to impending impact on healthcare provision, different country-specific structures for HF-care have been established. The aim of this report is to provide an overview and compare the HF-care approaches of Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK, and to open the possibility of learning from each other’s experience.
A mixed methods approach was implemented that included a literature analysis, interviews and questionnaires with HF-patients and caregivers, and expert interviews with representatives from healthcare, health service research and medical informatics.
The models of HF-care in all countries analyzed are based on the European Society of Cardiology guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of HF. Even though the HF-models differed in design and implementation in practice, key challenges were similar: (i) unequal distribution of care between urban and rural areas, (ii) long waiting times, (iii) unequal access to and provision of healthcare services, (iv) information and communication gaps and (v) inadequate implementation and financing of digital applications.
Although promising approaches exist to structure and improve HF-care, across the four countries, implementation was reluctant to embrace novel methods. A lack of financial resources and insufficient digitalization making it difficult to adopt new concepts. Integration of HF-nurses seems to be an effective way of improving current models of HF-care. Digital solutions offer further opportunities to overcome communication and coordination gaps and to strengthen self-management skills.