Buzz on the bus

I enjoy taking shuttles to and fro conferences for several reasons: They are convenient, energy efficient (in theory), free and dependable. I also welcome the opportunity to chat with a seat companion if the opportunity arises or (gotta be honest here) listen in on nearby conversations.

Here is what I learned en route to the recent American College of Cardiology (ACC) scientific session in San Francisco:

  • Cardiologists would prefer to prescribe a pill that costs pennies over a drug that is priced much higher, but the former is not in the formulary;
  • We are adding thousands of dollars to procedures that require the services of an anesthesiologist when there are less expensive pharmaceutical alternatives;
  • Physicians would like to have more time at events to mix and mingle; and
  • They like to “kick the tires” at vendor booths.

ACC13’s late-breaking clinical trials recovered from a rocky launch when sponsor Boston Scientific tugged the rug from under its feet by breaking the embargo on PREVAIL, a randomized controlled study that compares the Watchman left atrial appendage closure device to long-term warfarin therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation who are at risk for stroke. The company foreshadowed shenanigans the prior week by vacillating about what would and would not be presented.

Kudos to ACC for integrating solid science with whimsy with a mummy study that showed atherosclerosis has plagued mankind through history. If you missed the striking video, click here.

My personal favorite was a Meet the Experts session titled “Down and Dirty Problems for Cardiovascular Leaders.” The eight panelists discussed strategies to retain valued physicians who want to ramp down their duties, incentives and disincentives that change cardiovascular specialists’ behavior and the widening gap between younger specialists’ pay and the debt they accrue with training.

All in all, the staff at Cardiovascular Business covered more than three dozen clinical trials, panel presentations, poster sessions and press events during the whirlwind conference. Please check out website, where the articles are aggregated under ACC conferences for your convenience.

Whether casual conversation on the bus and prepared dialogue at a podium, these snippets demonstrate the need for cardiologists to be involved at all levels. Patient care remains the core mission, but achieving quality care under reform will require cardiologists to speak up about inefficiencies, professional obstacles and potential solutions.

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Candace Stuart

Cardiovascular Business, editor