Cover Story

The Future of Cardiovascular Medicine: TED-Style Talks and Tweets at #ACC15

Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC

Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC

The American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) Annual Scientific Sessions brings together clinicians and scientists from all over the world. During the annual 4-day meeting, ideas are exchanged, collaborations are formed and renewed, and new and exciting science is presented, debated, and discussed. Traditionally, large academic meetings are dominated by lecture halls full of uncomfortable chairs, stationary podiums, and the flash of hundreds of thousands of PowerPoint slides. While didactics are an important way to share new data and groundbreaking research conclusions, there are many other much more effective ways to communicate ideas at national meetings. 

As the world — and healthcare providers — become more digitally connected, the ways in which we learn and share ideas is changing. In many meetings in the information technology world, sessions are able to be streamed online, live demonstrations are performed, and those active on social media channels are able to broadcast important information worldwide. Fortunately, many organizations such as the ACC and the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) are moving toward novel and more interactive educational opportunities at their annual scientific sessions in an effort to promote engagement and enhance the exchange of information among the world’s leading cardiovascular experts. In advance of both meetings, the respective program committees released Twitter hashtags such as #ACC15 an #HRS2015 in order to foster communication and create a social media buzz surrounding the events. 

The ACC is clearly focused on the future. For the first time, an additional track was offered in order to examine the future of cardiovascular medicine as it pertains to several important areas including education, advocacy, and research. In an effort to promote awareness of new technologies and novel ways of approaching complex problems, the educational committee designed a group of special sessions within the overall meeting that focused on answering one simple question: What’s next in cardiovascular medicine? During this academic track, important non-traditional topics were addressed and included sessions such as:

  1. Future of Medical Education
  2. How to Handle Big Data
  3. The Role of Mobile Technology in Healthcare
  4. Precision Medicine
  5. Social Media and CV Medicine
  6. The Future of Clinical Research

In an effort to reflect the spirit of moving cardiovascular medicine into the future, each session was mandated to utilize more non-traditional communication methods such as panel discussions, audience response/participation, debates, and town hall meetings. Each session chair was asked to begin with a TED-style talk. TED Talks (Technology-Entertainment-Design) were created in 1984 in order to help highlight “ideas worth sharing.” They are short, incredibly captivating lectures that tell a story. Designed to share new concepts, honor achievements, and inspire others, TED Talks veterans are some of the most sought-after speakers in the world. 

Attending the sessions within this new track opened my eyes to the unlimited possibilities that lie ahead of us all. Each session was fast paced, engaging and inspiring. While I attended nearly all of the sessions in the track, I was honored to chair the session on social media and the future of cardiovascular medicine. In our session, I presented a TED-style talk on how social media allows healthcare providers to share information and collaborate across oceans, impacting patient treatment and outcomes through digital media. I told a story about Dr. Gia Sison, a physician in the Philippines who reached out to me via Twitter; I chronicled our relationship and how we had collaborated to facilitate the treatment of many patients in the rural areas of the Philippines — including her father — over the last year. My talk was followed by a panel discussion of experts in the pharmaceutical industry, medical entrepreneurship, and clinical medicine; they discussed ways in which social media may (and already has) impacted the healthcare space by moving innovation forward at a more rapid pace. We heard from a patient who told us (via a remote appearance via Skype from Zurich) exactly how Twitter and social media had actually saved her life from a near-fatal disease. Two prominent personalities debated the merits of doctors on social media, and this debate was presided over by an actual Juris Doctor. We concluded the session with a town hall meeting in which audience members were able to ask questions, debate issues, and comment on the topics discussed during our 70 minutes of programming. From the outset, I was amazed by the participation and engagement. Ironically, while discussing the future of cardiovascular medicine, I believe that we witnessed its development. Instead of a room full of attendees simply listening to lectures, the room was charged with palpable excitement. Twitter was very active along the #ACC15 hashtag, and the lecture hall audience remained active throughout the meeting. By searching the hashtag, attendees could get the latest updates on late-breaking clinical trials and other interesting tidbits from multiple sessions at once. Those not in attendance could follow along the feed and also learn from the expert panels and speakers — often getting real-time information about newly presented data and groundbreaking trials. 

It is my hope that we as healthcare professionals continue to embrace change and look to the future with inspired eyes. While we certainly have many challenges to address, we also have many opportunities to make an enormous impact on the cardiovascular health of millions of Americans. I am grateful to the leadership of the Committee of Scientific Sessions Program at the 2015 ACC meeting for having the vision and foresight to establish this new academic track. Looking forward to the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual sessions in May, I expect to see more of the same. No longer are meetings a place to sit and listen — they are now a place to sit, listen, tweet, and engage! The ACC meeting was an enormous success. This May, the HRS 2015 sessions promise to provide even more innovation in education. Heart Rhythm 2015 in Boston will include scientific programming on emerging topics such as social media as well as a newly minted lunchtime session that will focus on teaching doctors how to effectively interact with and present ideas on mainstream media outlets such as television and radio.

We are a digital world, and there is no time for looking back. As leaders in cardiovascular medicine, we must forge ahead and blaze a digital trail that inspires others for all to see. As we move forward as a healthcare community, we will ultimately change the way we learn, teach, and practice medicine. In the end, our patients will become beneficiaries of more efficient, more timely, more engaged, and more effective care. #ACC15 

To see Dr. Campbell's ACC.15 presentation, please visit: