Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s number one killer, and the number of patients with CVD is increasing rapidly as a result of the aging communities worldwide. We are approaching an era where traditional healthcare infrastructure is failing to provide the best care for patients with CVD. Rapid technological innovations are driving the digital revolution across many industries, and healthcare is no exception, albeit the progress is slower compared to some other industries due to a number of barriers that need to be addressed. Virtual care solutions involving the patient while connecting them with physicians and artificial intelligence (AI) were appealing innovations presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, taking place in Munich on August 25–29, 2018.

Digital adaptation in healthcare, broadly termed as eHealth, has mostly consisted of connecting providers of medical care to share records and to aggregate patient data; however, the adaptation of innovative devices and services designed by independent companies remains low. Full exploitation of innovative technology in healthcare could reduce geographical barriers and time of intervention through virtual consultations and continuous monitoring of vital signs. Connecting patients with their doctors or care providers could increase patient understanding and engagement, which could lead to better adherence to treatment plans and provide feedback on effectiveness of drugs and devices. Instant alerts would prompt clinicians to respond faster to “real” emergencies and the data could be used to customize individual care and to collect population-level “real-world evidence.” Importantly, healthcare cost could be reduced by reducing unnecessary consultations and hospital admissions and readmissions.

Mercy Virtual, which opened in October 2015, is the world’s first Virtual Care Center that provides 24/7 service supported by telehealth teams and technology, where patients are brought to specialists through virtual technology.

Web services, however, must be designed without increasing the workload of specialist physicians; therefore GlobalData foresees that AI will be vital to transform healthcare successfully and cost-effectively.

Optima4BP Web-Service, developed by Optima Integrated Health, was presented at the ESC Congress 2018. Optima4BP is software that targets hypertension, a preventable cause of CV mortality, which connects the patient to a doctor, enabled with the power of AI. Optima4BP evaluates patient data (blood pressure in this case) in real time and makes recommendations for treatment changes, which the reviewing physician can either accept or decline and challenge the Optima4BP recommendation. Apart from response to medication obtained from the patient, the AI is also exposed to treatment-related information of blood pressure control, including guidelines, clinical trial results, and recommendations from the FDA. Essentially, it “thinks” as a specialist physician when assessing the patient’s medication, but unlike the physician who sees the patient only on occasion, the AI constantly records and evaluates changes in the patient’s health status.

Given the increasing number of patients, GlobalData believes that digitalization of healthcare is not an option that can be chosen or not, but one that, in order to cope with the growing demand of patients, must be adapted.