PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dick Akins and his wife walk 3 miles a day. He’s really upped the number of steps he takes daily since he had a major heart event last year.

Doctors at Kaiser Permanente told him he needed a quadruple coronary bypass. The recovery process took a while. That was followed by cardiac rehab, which required 3 visits a week to his doctor’s office.

On the day KOIN 6 News visited Dick at Kaiser Permanente in Sunnyside, Heather Carey was there to check him. Generally, though, she checks his information through the hospital’s virtual cardiac rehab app from Moving Analytics.

Dr. Siobhan Gray at Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center, March 18, 2020. (KOIN)

“I think having multiple ways to take in the information is really helpful,” Carey said. “He’s happier, he’s healthier. He wasn’t walking before at all so it’s made a huge difference for him.”

Costly co-pays and travel time to appointments have often kept patients from doing this rehab, which can be critical in getting someone to fully recover.

Dr. Siobhan Gray said the virtual cardiac rehab app has increased the completion rate up to 90%. With traditional rehab it’s around 13% to 20%.

“They are able to exercise for a longer duration of time. They have improved quality of life. They’ve all told me that they benefitted from it, my patients,” Dr. Gray said.

Example screens from the virtual cardiac rehab app through Kaiser Permanente in Sunnyside (Courtesy to KOIN)

For Dick Akins, the virtual rehab is also alleviating coronavirus concerns because it’s allowing him to socially distance himself from other patients.

“The virtual approach is a lot better because normally they have people go to gymnasiums to do their exercise,” he said. “If you’ve ever been into a gymnasium, person on this side is 6 inches and this person is 6 inches away — and you’re totally exposed.”

Right now, Kaiser in Sunnyside is the only hospital system in Oregon using this virtual cardiac rehab program.