Expert: ACC 2023 Scientific Session Partners with World Heart Federation to Offer “Educators’ Paradise”


In addition to the hundreds of sessions and events, ACC has partnered with the World Heart Federation, bringing an international focus to the meeting.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Douglas Drachman, MD, FACC, chair of the American College of Cardiology 2023 Scientific Session, discussed what he is most looking forward to at the meeting, taking place in New Orleans March 4 through 6. In addition to the hundreds of sessions and events, Drachman noted that ACC has partnered with the World Heart Federation, bringing an international focus to the meeting.

Q: What does it mean to you to be chair of the 2023 Scientific Session?

Douglas Drachman, MD, FACC: Well, being the chair of the ACC ‘23, together with World Congress of Cardiology, this meeting really represents the culmination and, I would say, the highlight of my career focused on education. It's really extraordinary to have this position where I have a really strategic overview of education, particularly as a directive of the American College of Cardiology is educational strategy. [We’re] also focused on the college's members’ needs, number 1, [and] number 2, to have sort of a finger on the pulse, if you will, of the hottest topics in science, in cardiovascular medicine. And third, I think, helping to direct and foster the college and really the global focus on enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the sense of the cardiovascular community. So, I think those 3 things are really what I see as the quintessential experience for me as the chair of the meeting.

In addition, though, planning this meeting, as I've grown to appreciate over the past 2 years when I served as the vice chair, represents really about a year and a half of effort. It takes about a year and a half to plan this meeting. And it is just all focused on teamwork, and having a tremendous team has been a huge benefit. I worked very closely with the Vice Chair of the meeting this year, Dr. Katie Berlacher, MD, and also our cardiovascular team lead Jane Linderbaum, ARNP, CNP, FACC, and an extraordinary staff from the American College of Cardiology. In addition, we have a planning committee of over 100 clinicians who contribute all of the educational pathway information as well as the scientific information that we help ultimately to cultivate for the final program.

I think you'll notice this year, as it is the ACC ‘23 together with the World Congress of Cardiology, that there is a decidedly global and international flavor to the meeting. We partnered very closely with the World Heart Federation, including involving many of their designees in our planning committee. So, the whole global focus, the international flavor is truly baked into the entire meeting content. And as an attendee, I think you'll really get a clearer sense of this in all aspects. Additionally, the meeting this year is offered live in-person in New Orleans from March 4 to 6, but it's also offered through a virtual platform. So, if you're unable to make it to New Orleans, you can subscribe and there are 6 live channels that are showing you what's going on at the meeting as it's happening. And there will be over 80 sessions that are broadcast live, of the 300 some odd sessions that will happen at the meeting in New Orleans. In addition, there will be an on-demand format that's available after the meeting that's called ACC Anywhere, where you'll find really the majority of all of those sessions that have been recorded. So, you can attend, you can catch up afterward as well, if there are sessions that you can't make it to attend as they're happening live. And finally, I'll say that the real aim of the partnership between the American College of Cardiology and the World Heart Federation is to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular disease. And so that's been a major objective of ours for this meeting and serving as the chair of the meeting has therefore been a huge privilege to me to be able to oversee all of these important attributes.

Q: Your career has had a major focus on education and teaching for new faculty. How do you see that focus coming to the Scientific Session?

Douglas Drachman, MD, FACC: Well, first and foremost, I think that the annual meeting is truly, as I'd say, the educators’ paradise. This is an opportunity where we have a chance to incorporate the very latest in educational strategy. And after we've incorporated it in the program, we have the chance to get almost instantaneous feedback on how it reaches our intended audience. And this is really a global undertaking and is a massive international stage to see how this all works. We very deliberately have planned the sessions to engage the best educators from around the world and we've tried to establish unique educational formats to maximize drawing the audience in having them be interactive and participating in these sessions. And ultimately, this will give us a lot of information on the educational strategy that we've used, and what is the impact [of that].

Q: What are you most looking forward to at the 2023 Scientific Session?

Douglas Drachman, MD, FACC: I think in the Scientific Session, there's just so much going on at all times that it's really hard to narrow it down. I would say that at the forefront of the meeting, the science is just one of the hugest things that people are looking for. How will it change our practice? This year we received over 6600 abstracts; that's like 25% more than we received in any recent year. And this has really distilled down into some of the greatest cutting-edge science and clinical practice changing opportunities that I've seen in my career. I can't wait to see the late breaking clinical trials and featured clinical research sessions, particularly. In addition, I'm really focused on the educational strategies, some of which we've launched that are new this year, but others that we've tried to enhance from prior years’ experience. There's a brand-new concept that we're trying out this year called the March Matchup, that's a unique classroom that will have kind of a specially engineered setup to maximize audience engagement, and it's going to be very dynamic. It may change from session to session, and much like the March Madness NCAA championship that can happen at around the time of ACC when it happens in March, this room is designed to be maximally interactive, a friendly spirit of competition, if you will, and it might host sessions focused on debates, there may be some that are focused on game show type ideas, there's one that's centered on the Family Feud concept. So, it's really fun and we really hope that the audience is going to appreciate this, and importantly, that the education will find its mark and will be very, very useful to the people who attend these sessions.

In addition, we have incorporated a lot of the engaging formats that we've used in prior years, and we've really tried to maximize those. If you've been to ACC before, you may have seen the Heart-to-Heart Stage, which is kind of an open format arena where instead of people showing slides and giving didactic lectures, it's often a panel discussion that happens on a stage, just outside of the main tent, where people may be walking by and can drop in and drop out. And oftentimes the panelists and moderators in the session will very deliberately engage the audience in the conversation. So, it feels really like an opportunity to kind of share and experience the kind of collective wisdom of our cardiovascular community at these types of sessions. I think finally, another thing that I'm really looking forward to here is just the fact that this is a live, in-person meeting. I just can't wait to see people and have the opportunity to interact, and really, for people in the medical community to share their passion for science and education, and just the sense of community itself. So those are some of the key things that I'm looking forward to ACC ‘23 with the World Congress of Cardiology.

Q: The 2023 Scientific Session has the theme of “Advancing Cardiovascular Care for All.” What does this mean to you?

Douglas Drachman, MD, FACC: I think there are a lot of different ways to interpret that concept, but I think primarily, ACC has a very deliberate, important strategic focus on improving health equity throughout the world and enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the cardiovascular workforce. I think at the meeting, you will absolutely feel this theme running through all the sessions that were developed. In addition, we have a profound focus, as always, on team-based care and incorporating all members of the cardiovascular team to improve patient access to care, to improve patient experience, and improve outcomes for our patients. And I think that you will find that this sort of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary engagement will be palpable throughout the entire program. This year, something that's very different and new compared with prior is that within our expo center, there actually is a Health Equity Hub. This was developed by our Health Equity Task Force at the ACC, and I think that this will create a new forum for direct interactivity with experts in the field focused on health equity. And also, there are going to be some really interesting formats, displays, and interactive exhibits that will be present there, including a virtual reality experience, where, by using a VR headset, the attendee can experience really walking the walk of what it might be like in an underrepresented community, as an individual who is present in an emergency department setting, and their exposure and experience with the health care system. So, I think that this could be a real tremendous opportunity for everybody to learn more about health equity and what we can do to help enhance and improve health equity for our patients. Finally, I think that ACC remains really committed to developing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive pipeline for cardiology. And so, there's a very strong showing from the Young Scholars Program; we received more than 4 times more abstracts than we've ever received from them in any prior years since its inception just several years ago, and also the internal medicine program which is helping to advance the interests and medicine of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

Q: Is there anything you want to add?

Douglas Drachman, MD, FACC: Well, I'd say that first and foremost, I think at ACC ‘23 together with the World Congress of Cardiology, the meeting truly has something for everyone. It's a very broad, expansive, and incredibly exciting program. I think that there's much to see, much to do, much to experience. So, what I'd recommend is that people plan in advance as much as possible. There's an app that you can download on your phone that will help you navigate the program and will help you highlight what are the structured resources that you want to engage with there. But I also would recommend that you enjoy the spontaneity of experience, you know, have the opportunity to engage and interact with the educational content, certainly, but also with the thought leaders you'll see in the hallways and on the stage, interact with colleagues and interact with friends from around the world. And I personally am just tremendously excited to see everyone in New Orleans. So, I hope if you're watching this video here that you'll have an opportunity to join us either in person or if not in person virtually. And we'll hope to see you there.

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