Heartpedia: A Teaching Tool for Congenital Heart Disease

Health Tech | By Shiv Gaglani

When the CardioSource team recently came across the visually stunning Heartpedia education app, we were compelled to reach out to its developers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital to learn more about it. We had the opportunity to speak with pediatric cardiologist Ryan Moore, MD, about the tool.

Can you describe the origins and development of Heartpedia?

Heartpedia was developed as a tool for teaching trainees and parents about congenital heart disease. It has been well established that congenital heart disease is best understood with the aid of visual illustrations or drawings. Many of my clinical mentors taught me that drawing a child's heart defect is the most effective way to describe the condition to others. Multiple illustrations are usually necessary to describe a specific heart defect and the associated surgical repair. The time of diagnosis is stressful for parents, making it nearly impossible for them to process all the information given. I could only imagine how difficult it would be for them to recall all of the intricate details they had just heard. As they would leave the appointment with their drawings in hand, I saw the need for a better tool to help them understand their child's heart condition.

My love for drawing is what led me to the field of pediatric cardiology. After I started my pediatric cardiology fellowship at the Heart Institute of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, I began working on various projects with Dr. Michael Taylor, co-director of Non-Invasive Imaging. One day we were discussing our mutual interest in creating 3D heart models of congenital heart defects to help educate families and trainees. In collaboration with the Critical Care Media Lab at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, led by Dr. Ken Tegtmeyer and animator Jeff Cimprich, we created several realistic-looking 3D congenital heart models. Working closely with them over several months, we were able to create models of more than 10 different congenital heart defects along with their most common repairs. With this team in place, we were able to create the Heartpedia app, which is dedicated to providing an interactive resource for patients with congenital heart disease and their families.

Who is currently using the app? How many people are using it?

Heartpedia is designed for patients with congenital heart disease and their families. However, the app is designed so that anyone interested in learning about congenital heart defects—nurses, medical students, trainees, and physicians—will find it useful. Heartpedia recently surpassed 14,000 downloads in its first 6 months, which is tremendous given its rather narrow focus. The app is regularly used by nurses, trainees, and physicians at Cincinnati Children's Hospital while discussing aspects of congenital heart disease and cardiac surgeries with families. We have received excellent feedback from the families regarding the app, and there are frequent requests to add more heart defects. The app has also been very helpful during fetal counseling for new diagnoses. In addition, our adult congenital heart disease population has been very excited about the opportunity to have an app that helps them know more about their heart defects and communicate better with other healthcare providers.

What conditions are taught in Heartpedia?

There are currently 10 congenital heart defects available on Heartpedia. Each model has the congenital heart defect and most commonly performed surgical repair. Currently, we have models for Atrioventricular Septal Defect, Coarctation of the Aorta, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Interrupted Aortic Arch, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return, Tetralogy of Fallot, Transposition of the Great Arteries, Truncus Arteriosus, and Ventricular Septal Defect.

Do you have plans to continue developing it? If so, what's next?

We plan to expand the congenital heart library with several more 3D heart models and associated surgeries. In addition, we are developing a professional version that will incorporate common presentations and physical exam findings, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, cath angiograms, and cross-sectional imaging (CT and MR). The other really amazing thing about Heartpedia is that all the models can be 3D printed for additional educational benefit. We have started to incorporate these 3D printed heart models into clinics for patient and family education.

What is your background in medicine and technology?

I am currently a board-certified pediatric cardiologist completing an advanced imaging year at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. My background is more in art then in technology. During my undergraduate education, I started out with a focus on Fine Arts/Digital Media to become a medical illustrator. After realizing my passion for medicine, I transitioned to Biology with a future interest in bringing the arts into medicine. Technology is omnipresent in medicine; it is the art of finding a unique way to use it that allows us to provide better care to our patients.

Shiv Gaglani is an MD/MBA candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard Business School. He writes about trends in medicine and technology and has had his work published in Medgadget, The Atlantic, and Emergency Physicians Monthly.

Keywords: ACC Publications, CardioSource WorldNews

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