Preventive, proactive, productive: digital care for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases (CVD)

The following is a guest post by Subhro Mallik, SVP and Head of Life Sciences at Infosys.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) claims more lives than any other disease. In 2019 it was approx a third of all deaths worldwide. CVD also takes a huge economic toll – $1 billion a day alone in the United States. To make matters worse, more than 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases are preventable. Patients play the greatest role in CVD prevention by eliminating as many lifestyle risk factors as possible, such as smoking, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity. But the healthcare system should also switch from reactive to preventive care in order to curb the occurrence of diseases. One intervention that is proving effective in preventing and managing CVD is digital health intervention, the use of digital technologies to support the needs of the health ecosystem.

The field of digital health is expanding with every advance in digital technology. Smartphone apps, artificial intelligence solutions, biomedical sensors, and wearable fitness trackers are coming together in the fields of telemedicine, health education, disease prediction and management, and more. A meta-analysis conducted a few years ago found that patients were subjected to digital interventions stated 39 percent Reduction in adverse cardiovascular outcomes compared to others. Added to this is the digital intervention not only effective, but also inexpensive in the management of CVD.

Digital technologies have applications throughout the cardiovascular disease treatment lifecycle, from prevention, detection and diagnosis to monitoring and treatment.

Prevention: Digital enables crucial early detection

Forewarned is armed. Early detection is a big part of CVD prevention. When doctors treat patients via telemedicine, the data from all digitized interactions can be added to an electronic patient record database; Data aggregated from patient populations can be extracted using machine learning to identify patterns and correlations that could aid in disease prediction. In addition, patient health data from smartphone apps and wearable devices can be used in epidemiological studies to improve understanding of CVD.

Today, deep learning can extract information from a patient’s retinal images that can predict cardiovascular disease risk. Recently, scientists at the University of Utah Health made a breakthrough in predicting cardiovascular disease using artificial intelligence. So far, methods for calculating the impact of risk factors on cardiovascular disease have proven unreliable. By analyzing more than 1.6 million anonymized electronic medical records using machine learning, the scientists were able to accurately measure the combined impact of existing comorbidities on the heart and blood vessels.

Detection: Digital makes diagnosis more accessible

Early detection stands alongside prevention in CVD care; it improves treatment outcomes and reduces the likelihood of further damage. Unfortunately, millions of patients go undiagnosed on time due to reasons such as overburdened healthcare systems, inadequate healthcare infrastructure and lack of health insurance or lack of financial resources.

Because digital health solutions are inexpensive, hospitals can deploy them in large numbers to make diagnostics accessible to underserved populations. A clever and inexpensive innovation is a ‘digital stethoscope’, made by attaching a metal eggcup to a cell phone’s speakerphone, that can record children’s heartbeats in order to identify them rheumatic heart disease.

In the case of affluent populations that can afford it, wearable devices can help detect conditions such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, bradycardia, etc. Artificial intelligence is showing promise as a diagnostic tool, and the day is not far off chatbots will be actively used in triaging.

Management: Digital improves patient monitoring and retention

The importance of a healthy lifestyle to alleviate CVD cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, a large majority of patients do not adhere to dietary restrictions and exercise regimens less than the half take their prescribed medication. Closer monitoring and proactive engagement by care providers can improve patient compliance, but are largely overruled in an overburdened healthcare system.

Digital technology is a game changer due to its high scalability and economy. Now doctors can screen their patients with just a smartphone or web-enabled device. And it works. Clinical studies show a positive impact of digital interventions by healthcare providers on patients’ medication intake, physical activity and diet.

Providers can also better monitor patient health indicators with the help of digital solutions. For example, patients with Bluetooth-enabled pacemakers transmit their data to their doctor via smartphone with a 95 percent Success rate, compared to 55-75 percent for manual transfers with bedside monitoring.

Another study showed that when doctors asked patients to monitor their blood pressure on a wireless device, they took and sent an average of 55 readings over 3 months; In contrast, patients who came to the clinic recorded less than 1 reading in the same period.

Cardiovascular disease is a massive health problem and economical Problem. And it will continue to grow unless the goal is prevention rather than cure. This is where digital interventions can play an influential role, along with other interventions such as policy making, infrastructure creation and education at affordable costs.

About Subhro Mallik

Subhro Mallik is SVP and Head of Life Sciences at Infosys. He leads a team of customer partners and sales leaders to grow Infosys business with existing and new customers. He brings rich experience in developing new businesses, building teams and ensuring profitable growth.

In his previous role, Subhro was AVP and Head of Life Sciences, Americas. He has also managed client relationships for one of the largest Life Sciences clients for Infosys (a top 5 pharmaceutical company). Today, this account has IT, BPO, and consulting services in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Subhro was one of the founding members and a member of the executive team of the Infosys Infrastructure Services Business Unit (IMS). He led the service offering design and go-to-market strategy for IMS.

Subhro has been with Infosys since 1998. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, and completed the Infosys Global Leadership Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

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