Abbott Vascular: delivering vascular care in 2021

By Dr. Nick West, Chief Medical Officer and Divisional Vice President of Global Medical Affairs, Richard Rapoza, PhD, Divisional Vice President of Global Clinical Affairs, and Julie Tyler, Divisional Vice President of Global Marketing
Abbott Vascular's Executive Team on 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. 

Personalised care

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. 


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