13 June 2023

Hands holding a red, heart shaped stress ball

Early results from a new study based on Victorian Cardiac Outcomes Registry (VCOR) data show regional cardiac treatment centres can offer a similar standard of care to their counterparts in metropolitan Melbourne.

The study is assessing outcomes of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in Victorian regional hospitals, versus those treated in metropolitan hospitals. An analysis of VCOR data on all Victorian CAD patients over the last five years forms the basis of the study.

Dr Derk Pol, one of the study’s authors and Acting Director of Cardiology at Latrobe Regional Hospital, grew up in regional Victoria. Dr Pol said he initiated the study to find out whether regional cardiac centres were able to deliver equally high-quality care to metropolitan centres, with the aim of supporting further expansion of cardiac treatment options in regional Victoria.

Preliminary results suggest not only that regional patients treated in regional Victoria have comparable outcomes to metropolitan patients treated in metropolitan Melbourne, but that regional patients who are able to be treated locally have better outcomes than those that are transferred to Melbourne. 

“The research shows that instead of bringing people from regional Victoria to Melbourne for their treatment, there are benefits to bringing the specialists and equipment to regional centres like Mildura and doing it there,” Dr Pol said.

“We’ve shown in 80,000 patients over a five-year period that treating regional patients in a regional centre, they do better.

“Based on these findings, we recommend further development and expansion of regional PCI programs to achieve high quality and equitable CAD care for all Australians.”

The VCOR was crucial to the study, as it gave Dr Pol and his co-author, Associate Professor Jeffrey Lefkovits, access to comprehensive data on cardiac outcomes from across the state, rather than only being able to focus on outcomes at individual hospitals.

“There's nothing else that I'm aware that would have shown us as in-depth results on cardiac outcomes for all Victorian patients,” Dr Pol said. “The VCOR dataset shows us how far patients have travelled and their demographics, like diabetes, hypertension, renal function.

“It would have been near impossible to have done this study without using the VCOR.”

Dr Pol is currently drafting a manuscript for publication, including the final results and findings. The unpublished findings will be presented at upcoming national and international cardiology conferences.

For more information about the Victorian Cardiac Outcomes Registry, please contact Louise Kelly, Senior Project Officer, at [email protected]