Closing the Digital Healthcare Divide That Separates Us

Beyond Intervention 3: Eliminating technological gaps can benefit all involved in CAD and PAD care.

Healthy Heart|Feb.27, 2023

The dictum of technology is to be the great connector, to open doors we scarcely imagined we'd ever be so excited to step through.

Technology's truth is more dichotomy, particularly when its promise is short-circuited by access, a door that remains locked out of reach to those who would benefit the most.

And when that happens, experiences can fail to meet expectations in ways that can color the experiences — and the resulting reality — of the healthcare and overall well-being of those who find themselves on the outside looking in.

Those are the overarching findings for people living with coronary artery disease (CAD) and peripheral artery disease (PAD) in Beyond Intervention 3: The Post-Intervention Patient Experience.

Survey Says

The paper — the third in the "Beyond Intervention" series examining gaps in cardiac care and ways to close them — surveyed 2,056 healthcare leaders, doctors (general cardiologists, 36%; primary care physicians, 31%; and internal medicine specialists, 23%) and people living with CAD (49%) and/or PAD (44%) across 16 countries from March to May 2022.

In dissecting the phenomena at play from those three specific points of view, the paper found:

Patient satisfaction is based on their comprehensive care experience, beyond the intervention.

The paper reports that "patients' perceptions about their experiences are dictated by a wide range of factors that are comprehensive in nature, both medical and non-medical1" which "can leave a lasting impression that shapes overall patient satisfaction."

Further, "90% of patients surveyed stated that the two most important factors impacting their overall experience are: 1) having a clear understanding of the next steps in managing their disease and 2) having all their questions answered. These factors were closely followed by having confidence in their physician's recommendations (89%). However, there are gaps between the perceived importance of these factors to patients and their satisfaction with how well their providers deliver on them. The bottom line: some patients are moving through the healthcare system without fully understanding how they are being treated for their condition."

Motivation, time, and costs are the contributing factors to compliance and adherence.

While "57% of surveyed patients who underwent a procedure thought they were 'fixed' by their procedure; yet only 33% of physicians reported that their patients feel 'fixed,' " shows that the importance of after-care and adherence to plans faces myriad challenges.

As the authors write, "Social determinants of health — the economic and social conditions that influence individuals' health — are increasingly recognized as having a significant impact on health outcomes. Our survey confirmed that nearly half of patients reported finding time to manage their condition somewhat challenging, and a similar proportion described ongoing costs related to treatment as another problem, as well as the motivation to manage their condition."

Health and wellness technologies as enablers of improved patient care.

While we're as connected as ever — "There has been rapid growth in the adoption of wearable health trackers — 533 million wearables were shipped in 2021; 1 in 5 Americans use a tracker and 1 in 4 approve of their data being used in heart research,2" portending the potential for doctors to use those trackers follow their patients' health, the paper also recognizes physicians "do not necessarily link extra datapoints to outcome improvement."


"Only 37% of physicians believe that the large quantities of patient data available now are helping them provide better care," the paper reports. "Roughly the same percentage (38%) wish they had a care team to help them analyze the data and that they were compensated for reviewing the data. However, many of the physicians surveyed are excited by the possibilities that big data present, and nearly half of all physicians (48%) believe big data will help them provide better care in the future."

So, What to Do?

As the authors summarize, "patients come from all walks of life and may face numerous obstacles that prevent them from following through on the care plan prescribed by their physicians following a procedure; likewise, not all health systems are created equal. For-profit fee-for-service hospitals are in a very different financial position than government- funded hospitals with limited resources."

Given that range, the paper recommends adopting solutions that either alleviate or circumvent the barriers to digital inclusion, such as access to broadband, high-speed internet.

But that's not all.

The authors also endorse "partnering with medical device and technology companies to train and educate physicians and their care teams on AI-enabled technologies" and "adopting digital tools that have already proven to be time efficient and effective for both the patient and the physician."

It's tantalizing, as Nick West, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and DVP Global Medical Affairs, Vascular, Abbott, points out.

"Patient centricity is not a new concept, but with the rush to embrace the newest and most fashionable technologies, perhaps the delivery of truly personalized healthcare can be overlooked. In such an evolving future, the mass penetration of smart consumer devices could act as an enabler of patient centricity and allow enhanced patient engagement and empowerment. Such devices are not the answer on their own, but as agents capable of supporting adherence and behavioral change, they could yet prove the cornerstone of a holistic and socially-conscious approach to personalized care — one that could begin to address, or at least avoid perpetuating, the health inequities inherent in contemporary delivery of healthcare."

And as that technological divide is closed, "creating incentives and realistic, attainable goals for patients, physicians, and healthcare leaders to lower readmission rates" can help people living with CAD and PAD, the authors write.

At Abbott, we have a mission to restore dignity to healthcare through medical technology that's affordable and accessible to help billions more by 2030.

Delivering on that promise is crucial for healthcare professionals on all sides helping people can live their best lives.

That's how billions of people can enjoy technology's promise as it proliferates, as novelty reaches necessity.

And get past its dichotomy of dividing us from the haves and the have nots, as ubiquity reaches universality.

Read the report in full here.


1Mentrup S, Harris E, Gomersall T, Kopke S, Astin F. Patients' experiences of cardiovascular health education and risk communication: a qualitative synthesis. Qual Health Res 2020; 30: 88-104.
2Vogels, E. A. (2020, August 14). About one-in-five Americans use a smart watch or fitness tracker. Pew Research Center. Retrieved December 28, 2022, from