Structural components for the development of a heart failure network

Diagnosis and treatment of heart failure (HF) is challenging, and development of specialized HF networks is mandatory to warrant broad access to guideline directed therapies for patients. Numerous national cardiovascular societies recommend a three-level association of health care providers. This comprises tertiary academic centres, specialized HF clinics and specialized general cardiologists to cover the large spectrum of HF severity and entities. Although this idea of a multi-level care is widely accepted, optimal approach to build and implement a HF network service needs further definition. The core principle is that of network healthcare facilities that also consider regional peculiarities and that implements academic standards, quality indicators (QIs), interdisciplinarity and reimbursement strategies. These determinants of trans-sectoral healthcare need to be embedded in a network that provides sustainability and that incorporates QIs to objectify the efficacy of specific measures. The basis of a HF-network should be a certification system of the respective national HF association to warrant guideline standards and to prevent development of regional hierarchies or dependencies between members. This nationwide framework needs to be complemented by a federal system of regional networks, which also takes local demands into account. These regional units should incorporate digital communication and interaction pathways, structured educational programmes, certified telehealth concepts and follow-up algorithms to meet the requirements of sustainability and efficacy. We here summarize different components of HF networks and introduce the structure and development philosophy of the RUHR-HF-network that constitutes the first certified HF-clinics-network in the Ruhr area—the largest metropolitan area in Germany.


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