Top priorities of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for the coming year were recently highlighted by its new president, B. Hadley Wilson, MD, during the Convocation held at the close of the 3-day ACC Annual Scientific Sessions.
March 21, 2023 — As part of its extensive coverage, the editorial team at dicardiology.com/DAIC has shared summary highlights from the 72nd Convocation of the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, which took place on the final day of the ACC Together with the World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.23/WCC). The annual program recognized distinguished achievements and welcomed new associates and fellows, as its leadership set the stage for strategic initiatives set forth by ACC in the year to come. This follow up feature shares highlights from the incoming ACC President on what's in focus in the coming year.
Significant to the proceeding was the traditional passing of the torch to the new leadership. As such, in his parting words as 2022-2023 ACC President, Ed Fry, MD, Ascension Indiana St. Vincent Heart Center in Indianapolis and chair of the Ascension National Cardiovascular Service Line, said, “It's definitely been a busy year. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving as your President. It's been an honor to work with all of you as well as our partners around the world to share our commitment to transforming heart health. My last duty as president is to turn the college over to its next president, B. Hadley Wilson, MD.”
The new ACC President for the 2023-2024 term, Wilson is a third-generation cardiologist, with Atrium Health, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute Adult Cardiology Kenilworth (Charlotte, NC). Additional background was provided in a feature immediately following ACC’s 3-day conference, which was held March 4-6 in New Orleans. Excerpts of Wilson’s initial Presidential address, during the March 6 Convocation, are shared in this overview.
In opening remarks, after thanking all in attendance, Wilson offered perspective and praise, saying:
“Before we celebrate the impressive accomplishments of our award winners, and each of you as new Fellows and Associates, I want to pause a bit to reflect on the journey that brought us all here this evening. For some it could not have happened without the support and encouragement of loved ones and family members. For others, it may have taken the village and perhaps even an entire army. But we are all here together now united around a shared mission and a shared community.”
Wilson acknowledged “The wonderful ACC staff that put this all together, and the little known but long-running ACC convocation workgroup over the past five years — for re-envisioning this time-honored tradition and turning it into the concise impactful and memorable events we’re all part of this evening.”
Recognizing Advancements in Cardiovascular Care
Wilson extended congratulations to all of the new fellows and associates, to whom he offered, “As it has been said, with great reward comes great responsibility. And that responsibility cannot be directed towards a better place in medicine than in the field of cardiology.” He summarized historical and significant achievements within the field. Said Wilson: “Arguably, some of the greatest advances in all of medicine over the past nearly 75 years of the ACC have occurred in our field, from President Eisenhower confined to his bedroom in the White House for six weeks following a heart attack to today's standard of standing STEMI patients expediently and then sending him home in one to two days. Cardiologists are now inserting more aortic valves percutaneously than surgeons, and defibrillators are saving lives on the playing field and in the community. These are just some of the amazing advances among a plethora of others, yet cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in the US and worldwide. There's still so much more to be done to improve outcomes. And you all are very welcome to this endeavor.”
Addressing the new Fellows and Associates, he added, “It will be both challenging and rewarding, but I have no doubt that it will be enough to satisfy many careers. And ACC will be with you. Today, you join a community of more than 56,000 members spanning the entire cardiovascular care team and nearly 1/3 of whom reside outside the US and represent more than 140 countries. Together, we give strength to our heart team and shared decision-making approach to addressing the growing burden of complex cardiovascular diseases.”
Wilson offered a listing of what ACC members can expect this year and next, summarized with his comments here:
Completion of the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, focusing on four strategic pillars. “Together, we will work towards increasing the relevance of the ACC as the CV professional home, and ensuring long-term growth and sustainability of the college both now and into the future.”
Wilson emphasized a focus on delivering actionable knowledge to the point of care to transformative digital technologies like apps and smartphones, noting the need for “An up to ACC rather than up to date approach, if you will.”
Health Equity and Global Collaboration
In speaking to a top priority ACC, Wilson emphasized, “We will also continue and our commitment to advancing quality health equity and value, and transforming CV care delivery in the US and the world.” He added, “Key strategic care in the next year will include continued acceleration of work in countries around the world, working closely with ACC’s 42 International chapters and partner societies and the assembly of international governors right here with us. We are all cardiologists and cardiovascular team members without borders.”
Turning a spotlight on ACC’s global reach and responsibilities, he made special mention of two cardiologists who traveled from Ukraine spending 18 hours on a train to be part of the event.
Wilson reinforced that the College is a global leader with three regional conferences each year in Latin America, Middle East and Asia, bringing the latest evidence-based science and education directly to clinicians worldwide.
Said Wilson, “Our global heart attack treatment initiative, now in its third year, continues to grow — with 46 sites and over 20 countries across all continents, and more than 7000 STEMI patients in the registry so far. We are truly transforming care and improving outcomes.” He noted the family of globally-recognized Chancellor Halls, robust clinical guidelines and related clinician and patient tools, many of which were translated in multiple languages, referring to that as “A test for a World Vision of utilizing science, innovation and knowledge to optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes locally.”
Partnerships and Progress
“We continue to work with the American Heart Association to optimize our guideline process with a goal of two to three new guidelines each year, and the capability to update existing guidelines more quickly with the release of new science, Wilson reported. He added that ACC is also working to modernize its NCDR registries with a goal of reducing costs and burdens through novel approaches, like natural language processing (NLP) to channel electronic health record data directly to registries without the need for human data entry, and to support clinical process improvement.
Driving Digital Transformation
Wilson spoke of one of ACC’s recent key strategic initiatives: the focus on digital transformation and the creation of a digital first culture throughout the organization and its members. To this he noted, “This transformation currently underway will allow the college enhanced member experiences and value, providing more personalized information and knowledge in the way you want it and when you want it, as well as streamlined transactions and interactions throughout the college.”
Wilson added, “You'll also see digital transformation in our continued work through ACC's robust Innovation program under ACC's Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Ami Bhatt and her team. New patient-centered technologies, wearables, AI, and care transformation have the potential to handle the accelerating burden of acute and chronic cardiovascular disease and help curb the rampant growth of health care costs.”
Optimizing the Educational Portfolio
Continuing to share the vision and work for the coming year, Wilson offered: “As we look ahead, I'm proud to work with the leadership of the ACC Board of Trustees, and an amazing ACC staff under CEO Cathy Gates, as we layer additional goals for the next strategic plan for 2024. These include continued work towards building and executing a health equity plan for all — a plan that addresses the vastly underrepresented in cardiology to the underserved in our communities. You'll also see a focus on optimizing ACC’s educational portfolio, and developing a new paradigm for all future worldwide meetings. This means taking the wheel on establishing a sustainable professional excellence program that focuses on maintenance of competencies rather than certification. That’s a lot, but I assure you together we were all up to these challenges.”
In his closing, Wilson addressed those who served as his own “personal army” that landed him where he is. He recognized his children and their respective spouses and significant others, three of whom are fourth-generation doctors, as well as siblings, dear friends and his wife, Hannah. He added, “I cannot forget my Sanger Atrium family, headed by Dr. Jeff Rose and the interventional colleagues who have supported me along the way,” noting his cardiology team with whom he works closely, and executive assistant. Wilson took time to identify dozens of colleagues within the ACC family, who served as friends and mentors, thanking Ed Fry and Kathy Bega (2023-2024 Vice President), referring to her as “A step in the right direction for ACC who will take my place next year.”
Wilson closed by expressing gratitude and leaving the new FACCs and AACCs with one of his favorite quotes, from a 19th Century balloonist, who said: “You don't change the world simply by looking at it, but you change it by the way you choose to live in it every day.”