August 30, 2014
With medicine at a cross-roads for ‘critical change’, ESC President Professor Panos Vardas said it was ‘imperative’ for the Society to adapt to fast evolving modern environments.‘The leaderships of our Associations must acknowledge developments in those strategic areas likely to influence our prospects,’ Professor Vardas told a packed Inaugural Session yesterday. Quoting the Greek philosopher Philostratus, he warned: ‘Wise men perceive approaching things.’Sharing his own perspective on such ‘approaching things’, Professor Vardas predicted that understanding the digital health revolution would prove crucial. ‘The ESC should seek to establish channels of communication with the large digital technology players who offer the potential to provide new streams of revenue,’ said Professor Vardas, who steps down as ESC President on Tuesday.

Postgraduate education and professional development, areas once dominated by universities and scientific societies, have been targeted recently by for-profit organisations operating over the internet. ‘Faced with these evolving realities, medical associations should collaborate with selected academic institutes,’ said Professor Vardas.

He announced that the European Heart Academy, one of the three new ESC satellite institutes in Brussels, will collaborate with the London School of Economics to develop a two-year course in Health Economics, Outcomes and Management in Cardiovascular Sciences leading to a Master’s degree.

The standing of academic medicine has suffered setbacks in recent years, with remuneration of academics falling behind that of clinicians. ‘It’s important to promote our values and persuade policy makers of the need to make academic medicine the attractive career choice it used to be,’ said Professor Vardas.

On healthcare systems, Professor Vardas warned that heterogeneity leads to inequalities. The ESC, he said, was not only creating guidelines but developing initiatives, such as the Atlas of Cardiovascular Health Care Systems, to address such inequalities.

He noted that the demystification of healthcare information is catalysing the move for patients to become partners in their treatment. ‘It seems that consumers will dominate healthcare and any healthcare institution ignoring this trend does so at its peril,’ said Professor Vardas.

While medical innovations have extended the life expectancy of cardiovascular patients by eight to ten years, the field has become a ‘victim of its own success’. As a result of patent loss, Professor Vardas explained, the compound annual growth rate in pharmaceutical companies currently stands at -10%. ‘Such decline can prove disastrous for research and jeopardise the future of our medical associations, which largely depend on industry support,’ he said. ‘We need to go to the next level of innovation, in stems cells, tissue engineering and nanotechnology.’

By placing its spotlight on innovation, ESC Congress 2014 hopes to further stimulate research in cardiovascular science. Professor Vardas paid tribute to this year’s ESC Gold Medallists Sir Rory Collins, Petr Widimsky and Alain Carpentier. ‘Their innovations in population studies, acute cardiac care and valve surgery have truly changed the way we practise cardiology,’ he said.

Also speaking of ESC Congress 2014, Professor Keith Fox, Chairperson of the Congress Programme Committee, highlighted innovations in the way the programme will be delivered this year.These include moderated e-posters and a mobile phone app which allows delegates to put their questions directly to panellists in the global focus sessions.

The first certificate of excellence in training in interventional cardiology was also awarded to Professor Marc Hartmann from Thorax Centrum Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands. The training programme is an e-learning initiative of the EAPCI.

Authors: Janet Fricker, ESC Congress News

Notes to editorAbout the European Society of Cardiology
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 80 000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.About ESC Congress 2014
The ESC Congress is currently the world’s largest international congress in cardiovascular medicine.  The spotlight of this year’s event is “innovation and the heart”.  ESC Congress 2014 takes place from 30 August to 3 September at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain. More information on ESC Congress 2014.

To access all the scientific resources from the sessions during the congress, visit ESC Congress 365.



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