• Project led by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
  • Focused on the cardiac rehabilitation service.
  • Aimed to improve access and choice in cardiac rehabilitation and enable patients who would not otherwise be able to join a rehabilitation programme to do so.
  • Developed an online cardiac rehabilitation programme, offering patients tailored exercises along with access to health care specialists through discussion forums, live chat and emails.

The Activate Your Heart (AYH) project team developed an online cardiac rehabilitation programme to support people with coronary heart disease. The aim was to:

  • offer a more flexible alternative to conventional cardiac rehabilitation, so patients could choose the programme that suited them most
  • encourage patients who wouldn't otherwise take part in a rehabilitation programme to do so
  • empower patients to be involved in decision making and self-manage their disease
  • provide an excellent educational resource along with easily accessible support from health care professionals.

All suitable patients were offered the opportunity to sign up to AYH. The password-protected website offered:

  • a tailored six-week exercise programme
  • advice on lifestyle changes and reducing risk factors for heart disease
  • access to health care specialists through discussion forums, live chat and email.

Staff received training on areas including registering patients for the programme, writing blogs and moderating discussion forums, and responding to ‘Ask the Expert’ queries.

Who was involved

The project focused on the trust's cardiac rehabilitation service.


A total of 68 patients completed the programme, with 90% saying they would not have attended conventional cardiac rehabilitation.

The programme enhanced staff confidence in using new methods of treating and rehabilitating patients. It also freed up time for staff to spend longer caring for patients with more complex rehabilitation needs. AYH became embedded into working practices, with plans for ongoing development and improvement of the website.


One challenge the team faced was the relationship with the web design company, with missed deadlines affecting the overall project timescales. A detailed brief would have helped manage expectations and enable progress to be monitored more effectively.

Further reading

Learning report

Shine: Improving the value of local healthcare services

February 2014

Successes and lessons from the first two rounds of the Health Foundation’s Shine programme: annual...

About this programme


Shine 2010

This programme ran from 2010 to 2011 and awarded 18 teams with up to £75,000 for projects aimed at...

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