Cardio-Visual: Aiming to Improve the Patient Education Experience

Health Tech | With demand for healthcare services outpacing the supply of providers, it is important to adopt methods of educating patients more efficiently or empowering them to teach themselves. That’s why Manish Chauhan, MD, a cardiologist based in Austin, TX, has released an iPad app called Cardio-Visual (, a library of short animations and graphics that can be used to explain everything from the mechanism of atrial fibrillation to the procedure of catheter ablation.

What is your background in cardiology and medical technology?

During a decade of training and practice as an interventional cardiologist in Harvard and Tufts Hospitals in Boston, I was also involved in clinical research and trials of new devices and technology programs. I worked with many passionate innovators in medical and related fields. I moved to Austin, TX, to join a private practice and use the experience to build a robust cardiovascular program while continuing to direct patient care. Since Austin is a premier hub for software technology, I have been fortunate to also work with very smart and talented entrepreneurs looking for medical expertise to help solve some of health care’s problems.

How did you come up with the idea for Cardio-Visual?

The idea of Cardio-Visual came from a growing use of mobile platforms in medicine, but most importantly from listening and taking care of patients on a daily basis. There is a vast amount of patient education material on the web, but this can often be confusing or ‘anxiety-provoking’ for many patients. Patients are looking for unbiased information from their trusted physicians and providers. Furthermore, most providers have limited tools for patient education during their interactions (e.g. heart models, print material, fixed computers/kiosks to access different websites) and these are often impractical or difficult. The idea of the Cardio-Visual app was to help physicians and providers educate their patients at the time of contact, using instant and accurate, commercial- and bias-free information—via short animation videos and illustrations—on a mobile platform such as the iPad. The app gives you instant access to this information and incorporates most cardiovascular conditions, procedures, and devices.

Who is your target audience, or audiences?

The target audience is the cardiovascular healthcare provider, such as cardiologists, fellows-in-training, NPs, and PAs who can use the mobile app while discussing treatment options in outpatient clinics or hospitals. It is a good tool for nurses to help educate patients such as in the cath lab holding area, cardiac floors, cardiac rehabilitation locations, and heart failure clinics. Interestingly, there has also been much interest from home health nurses to help educate patients who have recently been discharged with cardiac problems (e.g. CHF, post-MI, PCI or CABG). Because of the short and animated video format, it is very easy for patients and caretakers to understand and learn, helping the provider focus on the management of the patient.

Can you discuss any outcomes that you’ve measured based on people using the app, or provide any usage statistics?

We have collected data from surveys conducted during beta testing of this product in various settings from private to academic centers, as well as from various providers and patients. Although not a scientific study, the ‘control arm’ was whatever educational material was currently available at the site. The findings were surprisingly very interesting and, thanks to the feedback of beta users, it has helped us build a better, current version of the app.

A majority of patients (>90%) thought it helped them clearly understand their medical condition, felt ‘better cared for and engaged’ with their provider, and decreased their apprehension and anxiety of any procedure. Both elderly and younger patients universally preferred the short video format.

After a brief learning curve, most (>80%) providers thought the app was easy to use, helped save time during visits, considered carrying an iPad of their own with the app installed to different locations, and ‘an excellent value for money’!

Overwhelmingly, providers preferred to pay the amount for the app then to have a ‘free’ version with commercials from vendors.

We will continue to ask for feedback from users to add new material and enhancements to the product. The impact of such educational tools on outcomes such as patient compliance or re-hospitalization rates could be a good research project.

What are your goals for Cardio-Visual?

The goal of Cardio-Visual is to truly help enhance patient engagement with their physicians and providers, at the point of care and beyond. The current app is an initial step in that direction and we plan to develop it in various formats for easy use on different devices; add material and enhancements for more frequent use and better communication; and provide users with new product or procedure information as they become available, among other plans.

Do you have advice for cardiologists looking to educate their patients?

As a practicing cardiologist, I understand the time constraints, productivity concerns, and the changing health care and regulatory environment that we face on a daily basis. Most patients respect and trust their physicians and healthcare providers to help them, and hence a well-informed and educated patient can only be their best advocate.

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: CardioSource WorldNews, ACC Publications

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