EuroPCR Innovators Day tackles heart failure, software disruption and “trial fatigue”

EuroPCR Innovators Day tackles heart failure, software disruption and “trial fatigue”

Fostering collaboration between “all the stakeholders of the innovation eco-system” was the key aim of yesterday’s EuroPCR Innovators Day, according to Facilitator and Course co-Director William Wijns. As well as a focus on devices, this year’s session included a “significant” focus on “debate devoted to the discussion of processes and changes in the landscape of our innovation ecosystem,” he explained.

Even the layout of the session—held in Room Maillot—was designed to optimise participant engagement and interaction. W. Wijns highlighted that this year, as well as including the traditional facilitator’s podium and expert panel, a group of “debaters” had been introduced to the stage. “People we would like to see contributing to discussion on behalf of their stakeholder group; physicians, inventors, innovators, investors, regulators,” had been selected to act as a bridge between the audience and the panel, representing each group’s key thoughts, opinions and concerns.

As well as using a microphone, W. Wijns explained, active participants were given the opportunity to respond to discussions and participate in debates using the EuroPCR app. The “React@PCR” function allows attendees to send comments and questions directly to session panelists, who can then moderate and respond to the most interesting points, actively engaging any member of the audience in discussion and debate. This novel method to challenge speakers is available for all of this year’s EuroPCR sessions.

The first “Innovations at the crossroad” session of the Day looked at bioresorbable scaffolds. Facilitator Stephan Windecker told the audience, “There is no doubt that bioresorbable scaffolds constitute a groundbreaking technology which has been long-awaited and welcome, but—as is frequently the case with groundbreaking technologies—there are some setbacks.” An overview lecture followed by a round of active debate provided participants with a far-reaching, challenging and ultimately rewarding session.

Another highlight of the day was the “Innovations at the crossroad: heart failure management” session, covering ventricular assist devices and other pathways of care. Described as the “last frontier” for interventional cardiologists by the Day’s keynote speaker, Stephen Oesterle, discussion returned to place of the discipline in heart failure management throughout the Day.

This year’s Course marks the 40th anniversary of balloon angioplasty. Recognising this milestone, the Innovators Day keynote speech asked what the next “big thing” would be in the interventional cardiology space. S. Oesterle, whose experience spans the realms of clinical practice, the device market and, currently, venture capital, argued that the future of cardiology—and medicine more generally—would come from software development.

Describing three “A”s of access, affordability and accountability, S. Oesterle explained that, whilst these were lacking in medicine today, this dearth is driving innovation forward. “There are over four billion people on this planet who get no health care of any kind, and we have to find a way to do that,” he said. “We can’t possibly build more hospitals or train more doctors to take care of four billion people missing in action from healthcare.” The answers, he said, would come from technological innovation, particularly that of software. Recognising the great strides taken in medical device development over the past forty years, from cardiovascular surgery to cardiological intervention, the next “big thing” to disrupt the market, S. Oesterle argued, would be disruption. As well as offering a comprehensive insight into the state of the art and its future, the next session at yesterday’s Innovators Day asked the question: is there anything like innovation overload? For the first time at EuroPCR, the session introduced the concept of “trial fatigue”, and asked active participants to consider the possibility that too heavy a focus on device development might actually impede the optimal treatment of patients. The comprehensive session addressed the topic from the perspective of companies and investors, as well as from trial investigators and patients themselves.

Another key area addressed by the Day was the impact of device regulation on the development, commercialisation and use of innovative technologies. “Given the changes in the regulatory environment, we really want to discuss this area,” W. Wijns explained. The session, he said, shared some of the strategies and evaluation pathways adopted by companies to address regulatory changes with participants.

Support for the Day was provided by two contract research organisations, genae and MMR, as well as HTI BioQuest, an executive search and talent management company.

Closing the day, S. Windecker praised the audience for their attendance, interest and for the questions submitted via the React@PCR platform. He concluded by thanking, “all participants, clinician scientists, the companies and the innovators” for their involvement in the success of this year’s EuroPCR Innovators Day.