Author + information
- John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, ACC President⁎ ()
- ↵⁎Address correspondence to:
John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, American College of Cardiology, 2400 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
- David May, MD, PhD, FACC, Chair, ACC Board of Governors
We live in a digital world. From the personal communications we share to the financial transactions we execute to the entertainment we enjoy, this digital backbone is pervasive; an integral part of our daily lives rising to our consciousness only when it fails to deliver to our expectations. Through it, we have exponentially expanded our capability to visit, share and communicate. With the increased use of technologies such as Smartphones and tablets, mobile devices are now a part of our everyday lives. These technologies have become increasingly popular and will be transformative in our work flow, as well as in the way we communicate with each other globally.
Likewise, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) has a strategic digital plan, a roadmap that ensures cardiovascular professionals and their patients have the tools and resources to communicate easily and effectively in today's digital world, but also is flexible enough to allow for future technologies (whatever those may be) as well. The genesis for this strategy has roots in the original ACC Learning Center at the College's former headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. Built in 1977, the futuristic multimedia classroom was viewed as a world-class learning environment far ahead of its time. The highlights of the center: 67 named chairs equipped with a TV monitors, stethaphones, palpators, call lights, tape recorder jacks, and a multiple choice audience response system (Fig. 1) (1).
With today's digital technologies the classroom is everywhere. More people on Earth now have access to mobile phones than have access to running water (2). This digital superhighway will continue to expand into the foreseeable future, offering paradigm-shifting changes in the way we share information and deliver and measure care. The primary objective of the ACC's digital strategy is to embrace those changes, improving the way we communicate, enhancing our ability to obtain continuing education at the point of care, facilitating our patient education, and enriching our member experience.
One example is the new Lifelong Learning Portfolio (LLP). Two years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report that looked at “Digital Infrastructure for the Learning Health System: The Foundation for Continuous Improvement in Health and Health Care.” In particular, the report noted that progress in computational science, IT, and biomedical and health research methods “has made it possible to foresee the emergence of a learning health system that enables both the seamless and efficient delivery of best care practices and the real-time generation and application of new knowledge” (3). The report called for a shared learning system that involves both patients and health care professionals; embeds research in a continuous learning loop; provides flexibility so that individuals can determine how they want to use the system; offers constant evaluation and improvement; and is focused on accelerating the exchange of health information with the end goal of achieving greater interoperability.
The College's LLP includes all of these elements and more. This unique online learning environment will include advanced functionality for tracking individual education activities; flexible formats to fit different learning styles; and targeted programming for Fellows in Training (FITs), cardiac care team members, and cardiovascular specialty areas. As the LLP grows, intelligent integration with an individual member's learning profile and mobile offerings pushed to the point of care will vastly increase the ease of obtaining CME and, eventually, Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credit. Further, with increasing health policy discussions focused on using data to tie performance measurement, physician payment, and educational requirements, the LLP has the potential moving forward to play a key role as the preeminent source of educational and quality improvement programming for cardiovascular professionals.
Our patient portal CardioSmart is another area where we are having a seismic impact on the future of health care through our digital vision. Just last year the College launched CardioSmartTV, providing free patient-centered educational programming for practice and hospital waiting rooms. More recently, the College revamped its CardioSmart.org website, which now includes interactive blood pressure and activity trackers, more than 30 condition centers, and opportunities for users to personalize their online experience. The CardioSmart Explorer App is the first medical app by the ACC. Available for the iPad 2, it is designed to help physicians and other health care providers explain cardiovascular conditions and procedures to patients at the point of care. Patients can also download the CardioSmart Med Reminder app to help ensure medication adherence, as well as communicate with their health care providers about which medications they are taking. Other mobile resources include free SMS text messaging services for patients in the United States looking for tips to prevent cardiovascular disease or to quit smoking.
The ACC's digital strategy also focuses on enhancing the College's existing digital offerings. Members should be confident that the ACC is their one-stop-shop for viewing and maintaining clinical performance, education, and professional information. Efforts underway to transform CardioSource.org into a user-friendly online home, as well as mobile apps like ACC Connect, CardioSource Mobile, and the eMeeting Planner App, are examples of ways the College is taking members' professional needs to heart. In addition, the College is committed to fully integrating the concept of patient-centered care into the digital strategy, with the hope of communicating the needed sense of empathy and compassion so often missing in medical school education in this era of high technology. Leveraging health information technology will be key in this effort.
On the quality front, cardiovascular clinical resources, including guidelines, appropriate use criteria, and clinical toolkits, are other important areas of focus for the College's digital strategy. Moving forward, all new guidelines and clinical documents will have digital pocket cards available for purchase, while quality improvement tools, such as the College's existing Clinical Toolkits, will be optimized for mobile delivery and use at the point of care. The Anticoag Evaluator App, a product of the new Anticoagulation Initiative, is a prime example of ways the College is working to weave mobile point-of-care resources into quality programs. The app is an easy and fast way for clinicians to assess stroke risk as well as the benefits and risks of antithrombotic therapy in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation. The goal: to close the identified gaps in guideline-recommended anticoagulant use by providing trusted resources at the point of care.
There are also significant opportunities for National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) NCDR registries. Expanding registries to include longitudinal patient data, facilitating greater automation of the interface between electronic health records and registries, and tracking and reporting of outcomes data at the individual-practitioner level are among the many priorities for NCDR moving forward.
Finally, we'd be remiss if we left out social media. Networking and community-building has become easier with the development of new digital technologies. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin allow us to more quickly disseminate breaking news, share case studies, and network with colleagues. They are also great forums for networking and sharing ideas with cardiovascular professionals around the globe. To date, the ACC's Facebook page has over 13,500 fans, while its @ACCinTouch and @Cardiology Twitter feeds have more than 15,000 followers. Linkedin is becoming a place for specialized ACC community discussions around topics like women in cardiology, the cardiovascular care team, and NCDR research. Social media has also proven an important way to reach the broader public with heart healthy tips and educational resources. The College, to date, has partnered with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Million Hearts, and others on several successful Twitter Chats targeted at women and minority health. Other activities are in the works.
The new Digital Strategy will build on the ACC's legacy as a global knowledge organization that continues to innovate and engage with its members in a mutually beneficial way. As the College's digital strategy further evolves our objective is to have a structure in place that puts the College in position to meet the digital needs of members and patients now, but also poised to take advantage of the inevitable changes in technologies that await us in the future. Leon C. Megginson paraphrased Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change” (4).
There are tremendous opportunities for the College to reach cardiovascular professionals and patients around the world faster and more effectively than we could have ever dreamed. The world is quite literally at our fingertips—and we are committed to leveraging this to the fullest.
See you online!
- American College of Cardiology Foundation
- ↵Francis Andres designed and built the prototype Heart House Learning Chair for the American College of Cardiology's first Heart House in Bethesda, Maryland.
- ↵UN News Centre, Deputy UN chief calls for urgent action to tackle global sanitation crisis. Accessed March 31, 2013, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44452&Cr=sanitation&Cr1=#.UUz-EBm_SFd. March 21, 2013.
- ↵Digital Infrastructure for the Learning Health System: The Foundation for Continuous Improvement in Health and Health Care - Workshop Series Summary. Accessed March 28, 2013, http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2011/Digital-Infrastructure-for-a-Learning-Health-System.aspx. May 23, 2011.
- Megginson L.C.