Abbott Vascular: delivering vascular care in 2021
COVID-19 was far and away the headliner of the last year, if not the last decade. It will continue to monopolise the spotlight – as it has accelerated the research, development and launch of numerous initiatives that are making healthcare delivery better while optimising patient care to lead to better patient outcomes.
Cardiovascular caregivers generally engage with their patients on an intermittent, reactive basis, meaning they only have contact with patients when needed for individual episodes of care. They tend not to see the whole picture of the patient, nor the patient’s journey. This fractured view of the patient’s journey across the care continuum has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients have deferred routine appointments and avoided going to the hospital, which has resulted in late presentations of both heart attack and critical limb ischemia and has aggravated the issue of patients becoming lost for follow-up. To address this issue, physicians are meeting their patients using remote patient monitoring and communication tools to increase patient engagement and capture the full patient journey.
These tools will give physicians integrated actionable data to see the whole patient and connect the dots across the care continuum before, during and after any intervention. Whilst the pandemic has accelerated the use of remote patient monitoring, this will continue to be a cornerstone of future personalised patient care.
By directly interacting with patients continuously before and after intervention, physicians can address patients’ diverse and specific needs, encourage healthy behaviors, and understand what is needed to drive improvements in quality of life and patient outcomes.
A new wave of virtual training
Organisations and medical professionals have adapted in a variety of ways to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; remote webinars, conferences and meetings have now become the norm. Even conventionally, in-person experiences such as hands-on training and proctoring have adapted and are now being delivered remotely with the assistance of new virtual and augmented reality technologies.
The medical community will continue to leverage these technologies to enhance virtual training in 2021, including smart applications and virtual reality systems, enabling increased engagement and better results in less time and at lower costs than traditional training programs.
In the future, such technologies could be envisioned to enhance the value of remote congresses by providing unique in-person experiences. It will now be up to the cardiovascular community to meet the expectations and needs of the medical community. As such, we think organisational agility will be a differentiator in engaging and delivering value to physicians and patients.
Combatting disparities in clinical trials
In bringing new medical technology to market, the medical device community will continue to expand its enrollment efforts in 2021 to ensure that clinical trials encourage the participation of underrepresented populations who would benefit the greatest from the development of new drug therapies and medical devices. As such, we will see organisations make a conscious effort to be more inclusive when choosing investigators, selecting sites with diverse staff, and treating a diverse patient population, to meet the needs of those in underserved communities.
While socioeconomic factors have been flagged as a driver in the varied care and engagement that patients have received from healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cardiovascular community needs to also address other disparities, like women and non-Caucasian patients being less likely to receive preferred treatments.
The medical community is working to understand and address the diverse inequalities in cardiovascular care, including systematic underrepresentation of women and non-Caucasian patients in clinical trials. The plan is to develop initiatives to improve patient interaction and encourage patient engagement to address this imbalance.
Further, we predict the whole healthcare industry will start taking steps to address inequitable access to and provision of care, as well as the variation in clinical outcomes across racial and socioeconomic groups.
Improving patient outcomes and pathways
In the cardiovascular space, we will see an increase of visibility in pre-Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) assessment, including imaging-derived physiology and post-PCI assessment (new clinical data). As a result, we will also observe a gradual shift in the proper diagnosis of formerly difficult to diagnose conditions like coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD) to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
The cardiovascular and medical communities will see continued advancements in the deployment of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to solve challenges related to information and data overload. Healthcare providers will require AI tools to collect, collate and synthesise the abundance of information gathered from traditional medical sources such as labs and diagnostics, and now increased information generated from remote monitoring and smart device usage.
The combination of medical data and lifestyle information will help to personalise patient pathways and determine the best treatment tailored to each patient’s unique health needs and desires. Overall, data-driven technologies through applications like smart wearables will continue to make measurable impacts in 2021 and beyond, as evidenced by findings from the broader medical community – as described in Abbott’s recent “Beyond Intervention” research.
If we have learned anything about medicine in the last year—and life in general—is that it is far from predictable. Living through a global pandemic has taught us about the necessity of flexibility, adaptability and mental fortitude. 2020 was an incredibly challenging year for everyone, especially the medical community, and we know our colleagues will continue to rise to the challenge in the future.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”