Feature | Martha Gulati Reflects on Guiding a Gem: CardioSmart
After six years of serving as editor-in-chief of CardioSmart, Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, is handing over the reins of ACC's patient engagement program that provides information on heart conditions and trusted resources and tools to support important health conversations and foster a strong partnership between patients and physicians.
"When I started, I realized our potential to help patients was huge, especially with the right team of member volunteers and staff," shares Gulati in an interview with Cardiology. "I recruited 120 ACC members to contribute content to CardioSmart, showcasing how much members care about our patients and the need for information that is user-friendly and applicable to our cardiology community."
This led to creating more than 100 infographics, one of the most important tools for patients on the site, during her term. Most of them are now available in Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Arabic and Italian too. The most frequently downloaded infographics are on atrial fibrillation, followed by peripheral arterial disease, high blood pressure and heart failure. In just a year, the "Coronarvirus and Your Heart" infographic was downloaded 5,000 times.
There's also been tremendous growth in the reach of CardioSmart, with more than 25 million unique page views between 2015 and July 2021. According to Gulati, there have been more than 1.4 million unique page views in the last year alone as a result of the newly redesigned website. CardioSmart videos have also proven to be important resources, with more than 21,000 views. "I have been so honored to be your editor-in-chief of CardioSmart. Thank you for entrusting me with this gem of the ACC," says Gulati.
What are you most proud of as you look back?
My CardioSmart Team! The ACC staff are the real magic behind CardioSmart. Michael Hargrett was with the team when I started and then I was privileged to work with Katherine Doermann Byrd, Arielle Fingerman and Michelle Poblete. They make things happen and put up with my crazy ideas (and reined me in when necessary). Together we were able to transform our tools for our patients. From the infographics, to shared decision-making tools, to our COVID-19 response messaging, we were responsive, nimble and passionate.
Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the real beauty of CardioSmart: We aren't static.
We evolve our content and tools as data and guidance change. In this case, we had to work fast to create content while ensuring accuracy, including updating information quickly to remain current with the most recent science as well as information and messages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We were tested and the team delivered.
We now have an entire series on Women and Heart Disease, including an infographic series. It's just been expanded and updated. This series has been translated into Spanish, thanks to my wonderful volunteer members and Fellows in Training.
I'm also very proud of our social media growth and the awareness of CardioSmart this creates beyond the ACC. On Twitter (@CardioSmart), we now have some 25,000 followers, up from 10,000. Internationally, CardioSmart is known for all the effective patient information we provide. I'm always honored when someone knows me from the work we do at CardioSmart.
Handing out our hot-off-the-press infographic on hypertension as people were leaving the session where the 2017 ACC/AHA high blood pressure guideline was released. Because the infographic was tied to the guideline, creating it literally came down to the last minute and they were hand carried to the conference. I'm pretty certain people thought I was one of the AHA news people… but no, it was the CardioSmart Editor-In-Chief doing whatever it took to get this information to clinics and patients!
Key lessons learned?
Alignment. We've worked to align CardioSmart content with that from the ACC.org Editorial Team, making it more relevant and useful to ACC members.
Don't go rogue! Work within the scope of the priorities of the College to make the product more valuable to members.
Capitalize on health literacy opportunities. Much of the work of CardioSmart is translating medical/health information into terms our patients will understand. It's an art to communicate effectively with our patients and help them be better partners with us in their care. For example, in a nod to the challenge some have with numeric literacy, we say "1 in 3 people" rather than "33%." This is a reminder for all of us to be mindful of how we present information to our patients.
CardioSmart speaks to our patients. Too many times to count, I've had a patient ask a question because of a CardioSmart poster or infographic they'd just read in the waiting room. Often this changed the course of their care. They are empowered by what they learn through CardioSmart. I'm humbled and honored to play a small part in patients feeling they are the most important partner in their care.
Opportunities for CardioSmart in the future?
Even more alignment with ACC.org content, perhaps being embedded within it, for more seamless access by members. More shared decision-making tools and validation of these tools. More enhancements for the CardioSmart Heart Explorer App, which can be accessed at CardioSmart.org.
What's next for you within ACC?
The ACC is truly my professional home and I'm excited to contribute in different ways. I'm serving on the Finance Committee. I'll work to continue to advance shared decision-making efforts and more.
Clinical Topics: Arrhythmias and Clinical EP, Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathies, Prevention, Atherosclerotic Disease (CAD/PAD), Atrial Fibrillation/Supraventricular Arrhythmias, Acute Heart Failure, Hypertension
Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Social Media, Atrial Fibrillation, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Health Literacy, Patient Participation, Decision Making, Biological Evolution, Heart Failure, Heart Diseases, Cardiology, Hypertension, Volunteers, Physicians, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S., Patient Advocacy, Patient Rights
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