Feature | ACC Industry Advisory Forum: Paving the Way to a Heart Health Future For All
Five years ago, the ACC launched its inaugural Industry Advisory Forum (IAF), with the goal of fostering bidirectional dialogue and exploration of areas where collaboration and partnership with industry stakeholders could tangibly address the unprecedented change in the health care environment, rapid advances in science and technology, and the extraordinary challenges and opportunities for cardiovascular medicine.
Early forums focused on building relationships and understanding the College's overarching strategic direction, as well as shared priorities and struggles. Initial discussions addressed topics like defining and developing purposeful education, how to harness innovation to shape cardiovascular care, and opportunities to empower patients and involve them in their care decisions.
"In the beginning, I think there was some reluctance to share specific priorities and struggles, but now, all participants are eager to talk and share experiences and ideas," said IAF Chair and ACC Past President Mary Norine Walsh, MD, MACC. "We have found that most of our industry partners have similar concerns around the issues facing our patients, clinicians and the unmet needs in cardiovascular research and innovation. As such, discussions are now truly bidirectional and ideas are exchanged so freely that we routinely have to shorten the meeting breaks. Over the last several years, other issues like advocacy and value-based care have been a focus, especially since collaboration among health care clinicians, industry and other stakeholders is critical to a successful transition from volume to value. An IAF meeting in February 2021 served as a platform for brainstorming and sharing best practices around innovative value-based arrangements for cardiology within health systems, as well as innovation in valued-based benefit design.
More recently, health equity and diversity and inclusion have taken center stage, recognizing that improving heart health for all requires a united focus and shared commitment to driving change. Key takeaways from group discussions include the need for maintaining diversity of thought and background when pulling together teams; developing mentoring and/or intern programs for junior high, high school and college students from underrepresented communities; encouraging implicit bias and diversity and inclusion education as part of training programs and leadership courses; and finding ways to ensure diverse populations are recruited and enrolled in clinical trals.
"Some of these meetings are somewhat somber as we discuss, in detail, disparities in care, lack of diversity in clinical trial participants and leadership, and how structural racism impacts our work and the lives of our patients," said Walsh. "But IAF is all about taking a solutions-oriented approach and I think everyone involved is coming away with ideas that will position us to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health for years to come."
The most recent meeting, which took place July 13 at ACC's Heart House in Washington, DC, was an opportunity to reflect on the community impact of several successful diversity, equity and inclusion efforts currently taking place, including ACC's Caring Hearts Community Initiative and Health Equity Programs emerging through ACC Chapters, and identify opportunities to both scale and sustain similar efforts nationally and even globally. Industry partners and ACC members also led panel discussions focusing on ongoing strides to improve clinical trial diversity and understand the lived experiences of specific patient populations, including Indigenous, Hispanics and Blacks.
Overall, the IAF has provided a unique opportunity to engage a wide variety of industry partners and broaden perspectives on how best to improve cardiovascular care delivery and patient outcomes. "The first five years of the IAF has been a true win for the College and I am really pleased that we can build on that success in the future," said Walsh. Going forward, she says the hope is to consistently bring the patient perspective into the room, as well as continue to identify and engage an increasingly diverse group of partners. Collaboration with other groups doing similar work will also be key. "Most importantly we need to continue to pose hard questions about the issues we face in delivering cardiovascular care to all," she said.
Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team
Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Mentoring, Leadership, Racism, Cooperative Behavior, Health Equity, Gender Equity, Cultural Diversity
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