Fear is a great motivator.

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Justine Cadet, News Editor
Art Bell was specifically referring to the effect that Sept. 11 had on the American public, but nearly a decade later, the current economic crisis might serve to be an equally motivating force across the U.S., especially as the fiscal turbulence begins to affect healthcare providers and cardiovascular vendors.

This week, the American Hospital Association (AHA) released a report which revealed that fewer patients are seeking hospital care and a growing proportion of patients need help paying for care due the current U.S. economic troubles. Many hospitals are beginning to see the effects of the economic downturn with more than 30 percent of survey respondents reporting a moderate to significant decline in patients seeking elective procedures, and nearly 40 percent of respondents reporting a drop in admissions overall.

From the vendor perspective, imaging and home monitoring giant Philips Healthcare announced it is cutting 5 percent of its work force or 1,600 jobs worldwide. The company is hoping the additional moneys will help with its healthcare margins and streamline operations.

AstraZeneca, the maker of Crestor, also announced layoff plans, cutting approximately 1,400 jobs across Europe by 2013. The cuts are in addition to the previously announced 7,600 positions to be eliminated by 2010 as cost-cutting measures.

As attention continues to focus on hospital expenses, cost-effectiveness trials will become more and more relevant. Dr. Andrea Natale, executive medical director of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, told Cardiovascular Business News that the ongoing prospective studies, weighing the cost-effectiveness of ablation versus anti-arrhythmic drug therapy, should help to elucidate these considerations for electrophysiology (EP). He also speaks about the burgeoning field of EP.

In the same specialty, an FDA panel unanimously granted pre-market approval for Biosense Webster’s NaviStar ThermoCool catheter for the treatment of symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation—the first ablation catheter to be recommended for FDA approval.

Regardless of how long this economic turmoil lasts, the burden that various cardiovascular diseases pose to our healthcare system and to the individuals forced to endure them, will continue to motivate the ingenuity of both vendors and providers for better treatment.

Despite these troubling times, we at Cardiovascular Business News want to wish you and yours a happy and safe thanksgiving holiday.

Justine Cadet, News Editor