"We wanted to explore how we can improve their journey by incorporating more 21st-century data and technological advances to make it personalized, seamless and better."
Dr Nick West, Chief Medical Officer
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death, claiming around 18 million lives worldwide every year. With a rapidly aging global population and the increase in cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income countries, the burden of CVD will continue to grow.
To obtain a global view of how cardiovascular healthcare could be improved through technological innovations, Abbott conducted research where they surveyed over 1,400 patients, physicians, and administrators across nine countries: USA, UK, China, Japan, France, Germany, India, Italy, and Brazil.
· Patients are frustrated by the level of care they are receiving – they want a personalized healthcare experience.
· Physicians lament the lack of time they have to spend with patients, their limited visibility into patient adherence to treatment and lifestyle changes, and challenges with other key factors that influence the quality of care they can provide.
· Healthcare Administrators are pressured to deliver patient satisfaction and reduce costs across multiple departments.
· Diagnostic and data-driven technology holds the promise to move care from a point-in-time, intervention-only focus to a more holistic “whole patient” view by improving the accuracy of diagnosis, appropriate interventions as required, and evidence-based post-procedural care.
To find out more about some of the key findings contained in the report, we spoke to Dr. Nick West, Chief Medical Officer and Divisional Vice President of Medical Affairs, Abbott’s Vascular Division.
Can you give me some background on how the idea behind Beyond Intervention was conceived and what you hope to achieve from your research?
“The idea for Beyond Intervention is to look at the whole patient journey for those individuals that suffer from cardiovascular disease. We wanted to explore how we can improve their journey by incorporating more 21st-century data and technological advances to make it personalized, seamless and better. If we can leverage some of these data and technological innovations, everyone - both patients and physicians - will benefit”
Your research shows that patients wanted more personalized care and more time with doctors. However, it also indicates that they were open to information sharing and want to be monitored, preferably remotely.
“Yes, there was a lot of interest in remote monitoring; it’s something that has been particularly highlighted in the current climate. There are so many things we could use to monitor patients, wearables, smartphones, smart watches. We believe that this is going to be very important moving forward to help improve patient compliance – i.e., what they should be doing. “
Doctors are very busy. Healthcare services are overstretched. Patients want more time and more money spent on them. How can data and technology help resolve some of these issues?
“Through the seamless integration of records and access to a ‘cloud-mind’ – i.e., a huge body of knowledge from other physicians’ experiences that can help to guide another patient’s journey. Doctors need to be able to synthesize all of the data from all over the world and apply it to that one patient. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence play a critical role in this. If physicians can access that kind of information, it really will be a major step forward in personalizing patient care.”
Your research highlights the benefits of using Imaging Technology. Can you explain why this technology could be critical in reducing cardiovascular related deaths?
“What we’ve heard is that all of the groups believe that improved access to imaging technologies holistically can improve outcomes with the intention of improving quality of life for patients and actually in reducing costs for healthcare systems. We think that up to 75% of cardiovascular related deaths could be preventable. When we talk about imaging tools, these are not just tools to diagnose a patient upfront but also tools that might monitor them afterward. We discovered that 88% of doctors change what they do when they are guided by imaging technology.”
There are incredible innovations in health technology to help critically ill patients, but part of your research also involved looking at how technology could be employed much earlier. Why is that?
“We need a bigger focus on wellness and prevention because patients need to be involved in their care from an earlier stage. Clearly, the healthcare providers and physicians have a very important role in this, patients also need to be involved. Shared decision making was a key finding – patients really want to be involved in their own care. Technology can enable this as it drives a seamless integration of patient records so doctors know exactly what has been done before so they can then look at what is going on ‘now’ and how that relates to what has happened. Doctors, by the same token, not only need to know about their patient but also need to know about other patients like their patient. “
Prevention is better than a cure. How can better access to better data actually help prevent cardiovascular illnesses?
“With enough data, you can begin to predict things about patients and how we can intervene and prevent things from happening, and how we can monitor patients to stop them from getting into those situations. Amongst patient respondents throughout the whole survey, the number one choice was that they wanted physicians and healthcare providers to see all of their data.”
Significant advancements in global healthcare often come from the scientific community working together and sharing data but it’s government bureaucracies that seem to impede data sharing – how can we resolve this issue?
“Democratizing healthcare by having all of the data in the cloud requires a lot more than local or even national lobbying – that is going to require a change in the governing bodies – think about data protection. The things are not insurmountable, but it’s a question of everyone understanding what the benefits are to the global health eco-system. The key to this is if you put the patient right in the middle, he/she is the one who is going to be affected by how someone decides to treat their condition and if we do the best thing for the patient, everything else will fall into place. That will be better for healthcare systems, better for physicians and ultimately better for research organization s and medical device companies because every patient will get the right treatment.”
What next steps are planned for this research and what do you hope it can help achieves ultimately?
“We want to create awareness of some of these disparities. We are hoping that some of the cardiovascular societies might choose to take this research further and help with policymaking. This is something that can and should be done – the technology exists to support us, and it is our job to generate awareness. If we utilize technology and data appropriately, we can enable better collaboration, sharing insights and experience that brings doctors closer to each other in terms of their understanding and knowledge of patients – and critically closer to understanding what is wrong with patients.”