Treating Cardiovascular Diseases: One Size Doesn't Fit All

Abbott study of 1,400 patients, doctors finds common goals: Using tech to create the best vascular care possible.

Healthy Heart|Aug.28, 2020

We asked more than 1,400 patients, physicians and healthcare executives in nine countries what was most needed to improve the treatment of vascular care today — including how technology could create tailored, patient-centric care — and it got us thinking about ... blue jeans.

That may seem a little off the cuff, but there are real parallels. Follow the thread of our thinking:

Everybody has been there. Shelves of jeans in your style. You know your size. You grab a few to try on, just to be sure. It's never fun returning the wrong item.

You know what you’re looking for, they’re all labeled the same and yet, each one is different enough. One size isn’t one size.

What if you could have a custom fitting?

Now you're standing before a wall of mirrors that take in nearly the full facet of your stature. A team of tailors, working in concert, takes every measure to create a pair of jeans made-to-measure specifically for you — and only for you.

Sounds perfect. And potentially expensive. But what if that coordinated effort led to trial and error finding what fits you, less time returning for other options, less money spent on ill-fitting designs that weren’t actually right for you from the start, even before you slid a leg in.

So how do we get from dungarees back to vascular diseases?

Those tailors? They’re your cardiovascular doctors and healthcare professionals, working together to fashion a bespoke care plan that follows every one of your curves.

Style and fit? That's your care plan, designed exactly for you, right from the start.

And you? Your job is follow the instructions for care, to make sure your plan looks good on you for a long, long time. If it’s "dry clean only," you don’t just throw it in the wash, right? Same with doctor’s orders and your health.

Those findings crease across the results from the "Beyond Intervention: Personalized Vascular Care Through Technological Innovation” survey of patients, physicians and healthcare executives in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, France, Germany, India, Italy and Brazil.

Among the report’s key findings:

Everyone involved wants greater control, precision and accuracy of diagnosis to deliver more personalized care. While 72% of patients (72%) said they sought more individualized and personalized care, administrators (88%) were even more adamant for successful outcomes boosting the number of happy, healthy patients while reducing hospital readmissions and costs. And in all markets, administrators and physicians said accurate decision making has the most impact either at diagnosis (57% and 62%, respectively) or when determining the treatment pathway (57%, 54%).

Put technology to work to transform the quality of physician-patient interactions. The right level of technology and data can be transformative to improving patient outcomes. The growing gaps in vascular healthcare before, during and after intervention need to be addressed. The solution? As companies like Abbott develop and deploy new technologies, they will be designed to give doctors more time with patients and their aftercare.

Real-time insights can strengthen connectivity among patients, physicians and specialists. Tools like wearables, imaging, monitoring and A.I.-fueled technologies can provide valuable information necessary to provide more precise intervention. Topping their wish list of tools to improve vascular care: Imaging.

In the words of one surveyed U.S. physician: “You can have algorithms and flow charts, but each patient is different. Ultimately, it is the doctor’s responsibility to distill all information to come up with a personalized, tailored approach for a particular patient.”

That's exactly what people with CVDs are looking for from their care teams.

And while the survey found "79% of global patient respondents indicated that they either 'strongly' or 'somewhat' agree that their 'doctor usually knows the treatment plan for me is absolutely correct,' " confidence among everyone involved could be enhanced with technology to help meet these five goals:

More face-to-face interaction, with the ability to have all patient questions addressed.

A consultative, two-way relationship, with the patient playing an active role.

Among 58% of patients surveyed, the reported found: "Regardless of their confidence level in their doctors' decision-making, vascular patients strongly desire the ability to 'weigh the options my doctor provided and express a preference' pertaining to their treatment."

An individualized treatment plan based on the doctor’s ability to review relevant data, to answer the universal question: "How did people like me get better?" More than half of patients surveyed (54%) said it increased their confidence if their doctors were "experienced with similar situations."

Effective and seamless information-sharing among their primary care provider, hospital specialists and healthcare systems, as well as with individual patients themselves via computer or apps. From the report: "Our survey results highlight that patients especially worry about the lack of communication between care teams, citing this issue as a major cause of the data gap when it comes to improving care and patient experience — and physicians agree."

The ability for doctors to monitor progress remotely and verify that personalized treatment is working — and to pick up early any warning signs. In the survey, 41% of doctors and 44% of administrators said are looking for monitoring tools to better understand patient adherence to treatment

From the report: "In particular, telemedicine technologies have dramatically increased patients' access to tailored medical advice. 'The COVID-19 pandemic has given us the chance to practice medicine virtually as never before,’ explained Dr. Pinilla-Echeverri. 'Telemedicine has proven a couple of very positive concepts. First, patients can now get more involved in their self-assessment (vitals, weight, diet, exercise) during virtual office visits thanks to new medical devices now on the market. And second, physicians now have increased availability, as telemedicine sessions aren't necessarily restricted by location or time. Of course, telemedicine could also create the expectation for 24/7 availability of their doctors, which isn’t feasible long-term.'"

It’s clear, all involved in CVD care are piqued for efficient and effective ways to weave in the “custom” in customer.

As the report concludes: "The medical technology industry must strive to help physicians and administrators shape better, more personalized patient experiences, improve efficiencies and costs, and maintain a high level of care — while building a true care continuum for patients, rather than a series of unlinked episodes or interventions.

At Abbott, we're thinking about all of these questions, about how we can raise the quality of the experience for patients, doctors and administrators.

Our answers are informing everything we do to develop technology to improve the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Care plans designed to fit you like the perfect pair of jeans. You know the ones.