Tags: patient safety , redesigning care , research and discovery , technology

At the conclusion of the 2017 World Medical Innovation Forum: Cardiovascular, attendees left with a renewed sense of understanding about how the medical and scientific communities will work together to combat one of the largest health-related killers around the globe.

More than 1,300 health care professionals attended the event here in Boston, including 125 executive presenters and key leaders who will shape the future of cardiovascular care. Over the three-day event, they sat in on a variety of forums, panel discussions, and “Discovery Café” sessions that focused on cutting-edge cardiac care.

Day 1

At the day one panel sessions, David Torchiana, MD, CEO of Partners HealthCare, and Anne Klibanski, MD, Chief Academic Officer of Partners HealthCare, welcomed attendees and speakers, and kicked off discussions that included device development and identifying the related challenges of managing atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease.

In a day one panel session on atrial fibrillation (AF), industry leaders explained why the cardiovascular community should revise its thinking on AF as a condition that can be cured by drug or ablation therapy, and instead view it as an ongoing condition that appears, goes into remission, and reappears over a person's lifetime. 

Society has to recognize the enormity of this ailment that affects millions in this country, but unfortunately the majority of people have never heard of it.

Douglas Drachman, MD, Director of the Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Programs at Massachusetts General Hospital

In another panel on peripheral artery disease (PAD), experts spoke to the lack of awareness about the widespread impact of the disease, and the challenges this creates when developing effective treatments.

"Society has to recognize the enormity of this ailment that affects millions in this country, but unfortunately the majority of people have never heard of it," said Douglas Drachman, MD, Director of the Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Programs at Massachusetts General Hospital.

At the “Discovery Café” sessions, a common theme coalesced around the role of device and diagnostic innovation in improving patient outcomes. In the devices space, for example, there is a real need for more innovation, especially for heart failure patients with ventricular assist devices. To improve diagnostic technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) was identified as a next step forward, although integrating any AI breakthroughs into valuable diagnostic tools that inform cardiac interventions remains a challenge.

Day 2

The second day featured engaging discussions centered on the always hot-button topics of pricing and affordability.

Leaders from the insurance, care delivery, and academic organizations spoke about potential collaborative solutions in a panel moderated by Peter Slavin, MD, President of Massachusetts General Hospital. 


I think we need to transform the way we are thinking about our role to not only develop innovation to improve lives but also our role more broadly in society.

Robert Ford, Executive Vice President for Medical Devices at Abbott

Robert Ford, Executive Vice President for Medical Devices at Abbott, said he the pharmaceutical and biotech industries are at a "transformative moment" when it comes to innovation and access. He continued: 

"There are no more funds in the system. If one product or technology gets covered, it comes at the expense of something else. So, I think we need to transform the way we are thinking about our role to not only develop innovation to improve lives but also our role more broadly in society."



For Ford, the pathway to affordability must be shortened to provide relief to an overburdened health care system "How do we challenge the brainpower of our development teams to not only deliver on outcomes and solve a problem but to bring down the cost of the technology—not 10 years from now, not five years from now, but 12 or 18 months from now?" he asked.

Day 3

On the final day, Betsy Nabel, MD, President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Gary Gibbons, MD, of the NIH-NHLBI discussed the funding and value of research, and the importance of large cohort studies and how they influence public policy. This led to speculation about a new “Framingham Study,” where younger populations and offspring of previous Framingham Study generations are living in completely new environments. You can see their full interview here.

In an interview for CNBC, Meg Tirrell interviewed Michael Mahoney of Boston Scientific on the topic of pricing and affordability challenges in emerging markets. You can watch their one-on-one interview here.

The device arena is exploding with new things that you can see will make a difference.

Robert Califf, MD, former commissioner of the FDA

During a “Fireside Chat” between Robert Califf, MD, former commissioner of the FDA, and BWH's Department of Medicine Chair Joe Loscalzo MD, PhD, the conversation returned to the day one topic of innovation.

"The device arena is exploding with new things that you can see will make a difference," Califf said. "Cardiovascular drugs are really sucking wind compared to other areas of medicine right now."

Finally, the day also saw the return of the “Disruptive Dozen.” Like last year’s dozen, which recognized next-generation cancer treatments, this year’s cardiovascular choices reflect technologies that will reinvent care over the next decade.

See which 12 game-changers made the cut this year in our official Disruptive Dozen guide.

On behalf of the leadership of Partners HealthCare, our WMIF co-chairs Calum MacRae, MD, PhD, and Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, and all of our speakers, sponsors and Steering Committee members, we would like to thank each of the 2017 World Forum attendees. You made this an exceptional event.