2019 is an exciting time in the cardiology community, with the convergence of technology, surgical advances and artificial intelligence.
Yes, heart disease is still the number one cause of death of adults in the United States. However, this is also a time of some of the greatest innovations in heart care history, from less invasive catheter-based treatments to an assortment of technological trends that can boost health and tamp down on costly readmissions.
"Any techniques and technologies that can improve outcomes, cut costs, reduce hospital length of stay or prevent readmissions can capture hospital and cardiologist attention in today's healthcare environment," says Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology.
Let’s look at some of these technologies available in 2019 that can improve cardiovascular conditions management and reducing readmissions:
PATIENT ENGAGEMENT PLATFORMS:
It used to be that someone with cardiovascular issues was checked out at the hospital, sent home with some medicines and dietary advice and then left to care for themselves. Technology, though, has made a chronic heart problem less of burden and more of a nuisance that can be managed. PatientBond is one of a variety of engagement platforms that helps to seamlessly integrate someone’s cardiac care into the whole of their lives.
PatientBond has collaborated with the American Heart Association to help physicians and patients manage their cardio care. Tools offered include a 90-day health enhancement program, a 12-month condition management program that supplements the provider’s care, and 30- and 90-day hospital readmission prevention programs. Cardiac conditions are one of the leading causes of hospital readmissions, and engaging with patients in a robust aftercare program is a huge factor in successfully managing conditions.
PatientBond uses a psychographic segmentation to figure out the best way to engage with a patient based on a personality profile. Having conversations about cardio conditions management with a patient via a platform they are comfortable with and have chosen can literally be the difference between life and death. In the 2018 PatientBond market research study, Self Achievers, Priority Jugglers and Direction Takers say they prefer an email when it comes to reminders for taking prescription medications. This is important because these psychographic segments are statistically more likely than Willful Endurers and Balance Seekers to treat a heart condition with prescription medication. The right kind of engagement can result in much more successful cardiovascular conditions management and patient activation.
Apps don’t take the place of patient engagement platforms, but they can complement them. Already, nearly a third of people already use health and fitness apps regularly according to the 2018 PatientBond market research study. Physicians and clinics should encourage patients to check out the many apps that are available to aid in a heart-healthy life. By doing so, cardio care becomes a seamless part of a person’s life as they become more and more comfortable with tech platforms, including patient engagement ones. Some apps monitor blood pressure and pulse, while others focus on fitness and how it impacts the heart. Because of these apps and patient engagement platforms, good heart health is a couple clicks away on a person's smartphone or tablet.
Use of AI is exploding across the medical spectrum, and cardio care is no exception. AI is aiding in novel drug development, precision medicines, data integration, and remote monitoring. According to Ty J. Gluckman, MD, FACC, in a recent publication in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology:
"Artificial intelligence is an ideal population tool," Gluckman says, given its ability to better predict individuals at greater or lesser risk of developing chronic diseases or related complications, tailoring preventive therapies and allocating limited resources to those most likely to benefit from them.
AI can filter through archives of data quickly and then create actionable plans based on it. However, where is the data coming from? Wearable health devices have been soaring in popularity, and more and more tech companies are rushing to get new ones on the market. Some companies are even taking the next step into using wearables for major research. Recently, Apple announced it was partnering with Johnson & Johnson to see if the Apple Watch can be used to quickly diagnose the leading cause of stroke. And Verily’s prescription-only smartwatch recently received FDA approval for an on-demand ECG feature. A wearable like a wrist watch can provide patients and cardiologists with real-time, 24/7 data that creates an incredibly detailed mosaic of a patient’s daily heart functions.
LESS INVASIVE PROCEDURES:
Today, more and more cardiovascular operations are closed affairs with precision entry and exit. Recently, new stent technology has come to the fore, promising even less invasive cardio work. According to Advisory Board:
“Over the last year, we've seen new stent technology that is either absorbable or drug eluting, and the first FDA approval of a fully bio-absorbable stent piqued people's interest.”
These devices need more study but the future is promising, and 2019 will build upon this promise.
In the meantime, engage with your patients as they manage their cardiovascular conditions via some of the great platforms that are out there. Health outcomes will improve, hospital readmissions will drop and hearts will beat happily.
For a closer look at cardiovascular health, check out PatientBond’s whitepaper on reducing hospital readmissions and promoting prevention of cardiovascular events.