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Quicker access to stress echocardiograms and results: a win for doctors and patients alike

21 August 2023

Cardiac care
Waitlists for stress echocardiograms are increasing in Melbourne’s south-east with demand for bulk-billing services making access to cardiac investigations and obtaining results in a timely manner all the more difficult.

The good news is, GPs can refer their patients to St John of God Berwick Hospital’s Cardiac Diagnostic Clinic for a stress echo test where wait times are short and reports are made available to the referring doctor within 24-hours. More importantly, patients still have the option to bulk-bill for this service, despite undertaking the test at a private hospital.

“Our Cardiac Diagnostic Clinic serves as a one-stop shop,” says Dr James Sapontis, Director of Cardiology. 

“Not only do we have an inpatient cardiac unit onsite, we operate the only cath lab in the Casey-Cardinia region. This means that we have the advantage of providing additional diagnostic services and interventional treatment if needed, eliminating the need to refer them further afield for the same service or alternative cardiologist care.”

If a patient attends the Cardiac Diagnostic Clinic for a stress echo test and it is discovered that they need further screening they can access additional diagnostic services such as echocardiograms, Holter monitors or blood pressure monitoring etc. Furthermore, if results indicate that more complex or urgent interventional care is needed, patients can be admitted to hospital while onsite provided they have the appropriate level of private health insurance coverage.

“If anything abnormal is detected, our team of cardiologists can refer patients to our cath lab to conduct procedures such as inserting stents, pacemakers or defibrillators or conducting electrophysiology studies,” explains Dr Sapontis. 

“Best case scenario is — if a situation arises where emergency treatment is required, that person is already in a hospital that is not only equipped to treat them, it actually specialises in providing expert cardiac care to your patients.”

Furthermore, that continuity of care continues for patients who may need rehabilitation services as part of their recovery from a cardiac event. 

“We have both inpatient and outpatient rehab services at our Berwick and Frankston campuses,” shares Dr Sapontis.

“Our south-east Melbourne hospitals can offer multidisciplinary care when it comes to treating cardiac issues. And the best news is, your patients don’t have to leave the area to receive the expert care needed.”

The medical information in this article is of a general educational nature only. It should not be relied on to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or as a substitute for the specific advice of a health professional. 

Sapontis James (MED0001198752)
Dr James Sapontis - Cardiologist

Dr James Sapontis is a general and interventional cardiologist who sees patients with a variety of heart conditions, including those with coronary artery disease.

James has an integrated approach to all patient care that is delivered in a friendly and professional manner. He is the Director of Cardiology at St John of God Berwick Hospital.