Digital Innovation at the ACC

November 22, 2017 | Arash Harzand, MD
Career Development

Below is a conversation with ACC Chief Innovation Officer John Rumsfeld, MD, PhD, FACC, and Emory University FIT Salim Hayek, MD, about the recently announced Innovation Member Section.

The ACC Board of Governors, upon the recommendation of the Innovation Working Group, formally approved the launch of a new ACC Member Section with a career focus on tech innovation. Rumsfeld and Hayek share their insights into the newly announced Member Section, and provide advice for FITs who may be interested in getting involved early.

John Rumseld, MD, PhD, FACC:

  1. What were the driving factors behind the new ACC Innovation Member Section and what are its goals?

    It is clear that a rapidly growing number of ACC members, especially FITs and Early Career members, have a strong interest in innovation. This interest includes topics such as health technology, digital health, clinical analytics, artificial intelligence and precision medicine. They want to incorporate these topics into their professional growth and careers. Some want to be entrepreneurs or work in the tech sector, as there has been an increasing number of ACC members join start-up companies and large health tech companies in the last couple of years. These companies include places like Google, Verily, Apple and Facebook. Others want to combine more traditional career tracks with innovation, such as academics and digital health. Many ACC members are simply interested in how health technology will change cardiovascular care in the future. To meet all these needs, it seemed clear that the ACC needed to launch a Member Section dedicated to health care innovation.

    The new Innovation Section has multiple goals, including professional development and career support related to innovation topics. It will also help position the ACC as a thought leader in innovation; for example, outlining a roadmap to innovation in cardiovascular care and guiding how emerging technologies like digital health and artificial intelligence should be developed, evaluated and implemented in care. In addition to education activities and publications focused on innovation topics, planned activities include hosting "shark-tank" type events around health technology and interacting with the health technology "ecosystem" through the ACC. One example is the new partnership between the ACC and angelMD. The ACC will have a landing page on angelMD as part of the Innovation Member Section community and will have the opportunity to link with startups and access educational materials on topics such as entrepreneurship.

  2. Who would you say are "target" members and what are the benefits of membership?

    Innovation is truly a "cross-cutting" topic. In theory, any or all ACC members might want to join this Section. Any ACC member with interest in topics like entrepreneurship, health tech, digital health, artificial intelligence, precision medicine, augmented-reality and virtual reality, should consider joining. It may just be an interest in these subjects, an interest in applying emerging tech into practice or developing a career related to these topics.

  3. What are the opportunities for FITs in the new Member Section?

    Any FITs with these interests are more than welcome – the Section is likely to be very "heavy" (in a good way) with FIT membership. The opportunities are wide open. Given that the highest concentration of interest and commitment to innovation lies with FITs and Early Career members, they are likely to be "drivers" of the activities of the new Section. The Section is designed for interested FITs to join and get involved in Section activities.

  4. How do interested members learn more or get involved at this point?

    Since the ACC Board of Trustees just formally approved the Section, it has not officially been launched yet. ACC Membership will be supporting the launch of the Section, and the current round of ACC committee nominations will lead to the formation and launch of the Section. The true launch will likely be in 2018, but it will be communicated at the earliest possible time when FITs can join the Section.

Salim Hayek, MD:

  1. How did you get involved with the Innovation Working Group as an FIT?

    As a tech enthusiast and clinical researcher, one of my main interests has been leveraging machine learning in analyzing clinical data and incorporating risk prediction to optimize workflow as a physician. Prior to the creation of the ACC Innovation Section, there were no venues where I could interact and collaborate with like-minded physicians and innovators within the realm of cardiology.

    Through participating in ACC's Scientific Sessions, I had the opportunity to interact with John Rumseld, MD, PhD, FACC, with whom I shared my thoughts on the importance of integrating technology in medicine using an evidence-based approach. Et voila! In line with Dr. Rumsfeld's belief in FITs as drivers of progress, he invited me to join the Innovation Working Group, which has led to the approval and creation of ACC's Innovation Section.

  2. What are some strategies you use to balance your clinical and non-clinical responsibilities?

    Balancing clinical education, research productivity and family time as an FIT is a continuous challenge. Prioritizing is essential, and depending on one's goals, certain sacrifices are inevitable. Being an FIT has important advantages, many of which are opportunities offered by the ACC, including core-level education, connecting with mentors and funding support for research. Since we are FITs for only a few years, I believe it is essential to make the best of this important time in our lives and take advantage of those opportunities, even if it means temporarily putting certain personal hobbies and interests on pause. No one can have it all, so FITs should choose according to their priorities.

  3. What advice do you have for FITs who want to get more actively involved with the ACC and its new initiatives?

    Get involved early. The ACC is the ideal platform for FITs looking for opportunities, whether their interests lie in clinical education, research or quality improvement. Attending ACC's Scientific Session is particularly valuable for incoming FITs who may not have a specific research or clinical focus. Being present and interacting with colleagues and leaders in cardiology will widen horizons and rapidly pay dividends; whether it is in potential job opportunities, subspecialty fellowships or involvement in research projects. The Mix and Mingle events, for example, are valuable opportunities for up-close contact with experts in one's field of interest. Never be intimidated or worried about approaching them, most people are at the ACC because they want to interact and contribute.