Cardiologists around the world face similar challenges in practicing medicine although some differences emerge in the tools they use and the scope of practice, according to international cardiologist research conducted by the ACC this past year. These findings, based on in-depth interviews with more than 40 international cardiologists and ACC international governors and a quantitative survey of 1,224 ACC international members and non-members practicing in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico and Middle East/North Africa, provide strong insights into the needs of cardiovascular professionals around the world.

The findings reveal that global cardiovascular professionals face similar challenges in education and practice such as rising health care costs, decreased funding, workforce shortages, few patient education resources, limited access to new technologies, research and training requirements and obstacles in patient access to care. Most cardiologists in these countries view the ACC as a trusted leader in providing tools and information necessary to meet these challenges.CardioSurve - December 2014

Just how to address these challenges and stay abreast of new science is where the differences among countries begin to show themselves. International clinicians most desire updates on guidelines (66%) and advances in cardiology (60%). Unlike their U.S. counterparts, nearly a quarter of cardiologists indicate that getting access to this information is a real challenge for practices and that a significant role exists for the ACC in the delivery of the latest clinical education and knowledge, particularly regarding disease and condition-specific content. Although clinicians desire education in a variety of cardiovascular topics, in general they rank acute coronary syndromes and heart failure/cardiomyopathies among the top clinical topic priorities, followed by arrhythmias and electrophysiology.

International cardiologists also indicate a need for education on how to apply these learnings in practice, with e-learning tools consistently noted as one of the preferred learning platforms for the majority of countries. More than seven out of 10 clinicians (71%) say they prefer to use online journals and publications for accessing their clinical education and information. Online educational meetings, courses, and lectures are also preferred, especially by clinicians in the Middle East. Interestingly, in India clinicians also view textbooks as equally important in clinical education. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (83%) and CardioSource.org (67%) rate very/extremely useful to international clinicians.

Live educational programs also earn high marks, with the ACC Annual Scientific Session ranking among the best meetings for cardiovascular professionals. However, the ACC is not seen as a monolithic cardiovascular resource. Rather, more than three out of four clinicians indicate it is very/extremely important for their national society and the ACC to partner to design and provide clinical cardiovascular education. Clinicians from Brazil, India and Mexico place the highest importance on this partnership. More than four out of five clinicians &ndash especially in India, Mexico and the Middle East &ndash would be interested in an ACC-sponsored educational seminar or course if it was presented by their national cardiovascular society.

Culture can also play a role in the delivery of content. For example, while English was perceived as the more universal language in the majority of countries, cardiologists in Mexico, China and Japan report a preference for translated materials, particularly for patients and non-physicians. Cultural disparity, while not a major problem overall, was flagged as an issue for clinicians when applying guidelines and treatments within individual countries.

The ACC continues to be widely recognized by cardiologists as a provider of the best quality publications and education as well as a leader in quality care. Additionally, the Fellow of the ACC designation holds professional value for international clinicians.

While no collective or best approach exists for engaging with the entire global cardiovascular community, the ACC by leveraging its strengths and continuing to strengthen relationships with country-specific cardiovascular societies is well-poised to address the characteristics of each unique population through our international activities. With our 32 International Chapters and additional partnerships, the ACC is committed to continued innovation to meet the needs of the cardiovascular team and patients worldwide to improve cardiovascular health.