Spotlight: Digital Pioneers in Cardiology

In line with this week’s heart rhythm awareness focus, these 2016/7 Digital Pioneers Award nominees are working on projects in their field of cardiology. 

David_PattersonDavid Patterson, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine & Consultant Cardiologist at Whittington Health, is a 2016 Pioneer for Sustainability through Digital and one of the founders of HeliconHealth, a UCL spin-out company partnering with the Whittington.

Helicon Health has developed, a standards and cloud-based clinical information system, which includes modules for diagnostic workup, risk assessment and selection of therapy, in atrial fibrillation, heart failure and anticoagulants. HeliconStrokePrevent, is a digital approach to the prevention of stroke, Helicon eLearning is designed for health care professionals covering stroke prevention, atrial fibrillation and anticoagulation, and MyHelicon is an app for patients allowing them to track key health parameters, support self-care and to share information with their clinicians.

“The NHS and many healthcare systems, are facing fundamental challenges” says David, “Technology is transforming our ability to predict, diagnose and treat disease, leading to the opportunity to break out of the artificial boundaries between hospitals and primary care, between health and social care, between generalists and specialists.

“Most health care systems have failed miserably to prevent disease. There is now an imperative to make better use of technologies to involve the person and their family in their own health.”

Sunil Bhadia is Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Nskb_201706HS Foundation Trust. He’s developing an innovative project for Warwick Medical School students, combining clinical-case based learning and experimental physiology to enhance and embed physiology learning, and is also involved in developing a virtual learning environment for teaching trainee cardiothoracic surgeons.

The VR replicates an actual visit to the operating environment, without the risk of exposing patients to unexpected or potentially frightening events, or interfering with the privacy of others.

“Through the use of virtual reality, patients are exposed to the environment they will actually experience when they come in for their cardiac surgery prior to being admitted to hospital to undergo their operation.” he explains, “A high definition 360-degree recording takes the patient through the whole actual journey. The vision is that every patient that comes through the pre-assessment clinic will be given the opportunity to see the recording, unsupervised or even at home. In addition, urgent case patients admitted from other hospitals will also be offered the VR immersive experience.”

prof-m-cowie-2017Martin Cowie is Professor of Cardiology and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at Imperial College London (Royal Brompton Hospital).He was appointed by the European Society of Cardiology in 2016, to lead their digital health strategies, focusing on education and training, advocacy, research, and proactive engagement with IT companies, app developers, and other key commercial stakeholders. In 2016 he became one of Digital Health London’s Digital Pioneers, for his work in testing and developing remote monitoring technologies for patients with heart failure.

“I first introduced remote monitoring into our local heart failure service a decade ago,” Martin explains, “This required considerable service redesign, and support for staff. However, it was enthusiastically adopted by patients and their families, particularly if they lived far from the hospital. The service was then subject to trials, which demonstrated safety and patient acceptability.

“The benefits were clear. Patients and carers felt more secure and could access help when needed rather than waiting for scheduled appointments, while GPs felt that the specialist services were more engaged with their patients. Specialist staff added another skill and option to their disease management programmes.”

unnamedSadia Khan  is a Consultant Cardiologist at the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, and a 2016 Digital Pioneer for Leadership. Sadia works in an area of London with high cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, and is co-leading a project to improve the detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation. This has involved the roll-out of mobile ECG smartphone monitors, a system1 clinical template, a flag to identify at risk patients, a Whatsapp group linking primary, secondary and tertiary care colleagues, and a programme of  work with community groups, delivered to all 52 GP practices in her area.

“Using this pathway, one patient was diagnosed and prescribed therapeutic anticoagulation within 3 hours. Before this project the same process might have taken 12 weeks.” Sadia says.

To date, the project has screened over 4000 individuals, using ECG recording within primary care, coupled with Samsung smartphones, allowing everyone involved to be linked via a Whatsapp group. This has enabled immediate sharing of ECG pdfs with secondary /tertiary care cardiology colleagues and practices.