A major medical society is tackling the opportunities and challenges of digital health
The rapid evolution of digital technology and its impact on the prevention and treatment of heart disease is the subject of a new digital summit organised by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is the world’s largest scientific society of cardiovascular professionals, bringing together more than 100,000 members across 57 National Cardiac Societies. The ESC Digital Summit will be held in Tallinn, Estonia on 5-6 October, 2019.
“There are technology innovators, from small start-ups to established giants, looking to develop the next big breakthrough in cardiovascular medicine. This Summit is for them.” said Dr Martin Cowie, Professor of Cardiology, Imperial College London, and chair of the ESC’s Digital Health Committee. “This is the place to exchange ideas, receive precious feedback from leading cardiologists and develop essential connections.”
The Summit and its focus on heart disease could not be more timely. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is globally the leading cause of death.1 The European Commission reports it kills more than 10,000 people in Europe every day, far exceeding the number of deaths from cancer.2
Some 1,000 stakeholders are expected to attend the Summit, including digital developers, cardiologists, policymakers, patient advocates, entrepreneurs and experts from the life-sciences industry. The agenda will feature TED-style talks, United Nations-style panels, roundtable discussions and technology workshops. There will also be an exhibition area where cutting-edge innovations will be on display.
An ESC survey of 2,100 healthcare professionals revealed that 8 out of 10 predict digital health will radically impact clinical practice. Not surprisingly, 94% say they need to learn more about the subject. Summit participants will share ideas on how advances in technology can be safely and effectively applied to cardiology.
The advent of technologies, including wearables, wireless mobile devices, artificial intelligence, big data, electronic medical records and social media are already transforming medicine and the doctor/patient relationship.
“The developing technology supports innovation, better patient outcomes, and more efficient and effective care,” said Prof Cowie. “The changes enable information and clinical decision-making to be more easily shared with the patient, and they help a non-specialist make decisions much like the specialist; In other words, they help ‘democratize’ healthcare.”
Summit organisers say that for innovation to work, its value to patients and doctors must be clear. “It’s not as simple as taking a technology off the shelf and popping it into a healthcare system and seeing the result,” said Prof Panos Vardas, ESC Chief Strategy Officer. “If we use a new drug or we use a new device, we want really strong evidence that it’s effective. We need that same standard for new digital technologies. There are two questions to ask: will it make a meaningful difference? And is that difference worth the expense?”
There is also the challenge of protecting information and patient privacy. “We are all aware of the recent data scandals, and we need to minimize the risk of data being used inappropriately,” said Prof Cowie.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Prof Vardas. “The next decade will see unprecedented changes in healthcare delivery and disease prevention using more complex technologies. We need to better prepare.”
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ESC Press Office