Careers Outside Academia: Telehealth Cardiology
Jana M. Goldberg, MD, FACC
In the latest installment of our series exploring careers outside of academia, Jana M. Goldberg, MD, FACC, medical director of Heartbeat Health, shares her path to working in telehealth cardiology.
Will you start by telling us about Heartbeat Health?
Heartbeat Health is a virtual cardiology company. Heartbeat's mission is to enable the most effective, efficient, and engaging cardiovascular care in the world through a platform that delivers virtual-first diagnostics, televisits, and procedural referrals. We bring cardiac care to those who need it and engage with primary care organizations to empower the early detection and treatment of cardiac disease. Heartbeat has managed tens of thousands of patients to date with the virtual-first cardiology model.
The success of the company thus far has much to do with an amazing team (founded by Jeffrey D. Wessler MD, MPhil, FACC, cardiologist and CEO, Mark Hanson, chief product officer, and Nayan Jain, chief technology officer) that prioritizes evidence-based care with a focus on scaling the delivery of cardiology across the U.S. The company has cultivated a cohesive, diverse, and forward-thinking environment which has been so wonderful to be part of.
What is a typical work week is for you?
My current role at Heartbeat Health as Medical Director creates a good amount of variety to the workweek. The majority of my time is spent providing clinical oversight to our cardiac programs, working with clinical operations and business development teams as we grow, working with product and engineering teams as the product develops, building our clinical team, and ensuring we meet high-quality metrics. The remainder of my time is spent doing clinical care, seeing patients directly through virtual visits, or reading cardiac diagnostics.
The ability to work with a cross-functional team in a fast-paced environment, especially as the company has grown over the last couple of years, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.
What was your journey to Heartbeat Health? What are the differences and similarities between your previous practice and your current practice?
Prior to joining Heartbeat in 2019, I completed a cardiovascular disease fellowship and chief year at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, I joined as an assistant professor of Clinical Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for several years with a focus on sports and exercise cardiology. This was consistent with a traditional academic teaching role – 90% clinical and 10% teaching.
In that role, my patient population varied from athletes with known heart disease to patients who wanted to begin incorporating more extensive exercise prescriptions into their care plan to improve their baseline functional status. I was also able to familiarize with the world of wearables and the impact they may have on cardiovascular management as well as tailoring VO2 tests to fit particular athlete cases. In addition, I was appointed to the Philadelphia VA Medical Center as director of the Cardiac Care unit which allowed me to manage a higher level of acuity, including cardiogenic shock and post-MI complications.
My current clinical practice has allowed me to build on my previous experience with wearables and a diverse patient population. The population has shifted into mainly virtual space. Additionally, I have the reward of seeing the larger-scale impact of accessible cardiology care through oversight of our cardiology programs. We are seeing dramatic improvements in early diagnosis and treatment of cardiac disease, getting patients on the appropriate guideline-directed medical therapy, and seeing reductions in hypertension, weight and hospitalization. Perhaps most rewarding is seeing virtual care break down social determinant barriers.
How do you handle components of cardiac care that require in-person services (e.g., echocardiograms, stress testing, etc.)
We have embraced a hybrid model to accommodate the "in-person" needs for some of the testing, exams, and interventions that are often needed for cardiovascular patients. For patients who are eligible to have services at home, we facilitate that as much as possible. We also have a network of practices and facilities where we are also able to send patients for any necessary testing.
What advice do you have for fellows and early career cardiologists who may be considering a career as a telehealth cardiologist?
I would think of it beyond the traditional sense of telehealth. Virtual cardiology services, including diagnostics with remote interpretation, provider-to-provider consultation, patient-to-provide consultation, and remote-patient monitoring, bring so much to the table for cardiology patients who are not getting the care they need. As a result of this infrastructure, cardiologists who are interested in working remotely are getting an experience similar to a traditional non-invasive role, a mix of both consultation and diagnostic interpretation. Further, it is an exciting time to be a cardiologist and be part of the health tech industry, as this space is within our wheelhouse. I work with so many physicians who have flourished in this space and look forward to growing our clinical team even further.
The ACC is collaborating with Heartbeat Health to provide cardiologists with a full-service telemedicine solution. ACC members can use Heartbeat Health's telemedicine services at no cost through the end of the year. Learn more.
This article was authored by M. Abigail Simmons, MD, FACC.