Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, affect tens of millions of people globally and claim more than 17 million lives worldwide every year. However, thanks to skilled researchers and healthcare professionals, our knowledge of CVD has grown immensely over the past decades. We continue to understand more about factors that can increase our risk as well as ways to prevent and manage these conditions.
In the UK, NHS England has identified CVD as ‘the single biggest area where the NHS can save lives over the next 10 years’ and with numerous medical guidelines and available therapies and medical devices, patient care has improved measurably over the years. However, what’s important to patients isn’t just about the care and treatments they receive. A patient’s emotional wellbeing is also crucial, so it is important to understand the impact their condition has on their personal and professional lives.
Empathy plays a key role here. Research consistently shows that empathy can build trust, enhance care, improve patient outcomes and positively affects mental and emotional wellbeing. This is why it is so important to understand how a condition impacts every part of a person’s life, inside and outside the clinical setting.
Through our heart failure and post myocardial infarction experiences, we can support healthcare and pharmaceutical teams to understand the impact heart conditions can have on patients’ personal and professional lives, enabling better conversations and a more holistic approach to address needs effectively
A Life in a Day: heart failure
Our heart failure experience has been widely used to help improve patient care through the professional development of healthcare professionals and executives across the pharmaceutical industry.
Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood around the body adequately. Heart failure is commonly caused by conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure, which can damage the heart tissue or create a problem in the way the heart works. For some people, the condition can be managed through healthy lifestyle changes and treatments, while others may need surgery.
About 6.2 million adults in the US have heart failure and those affected often experience symptoms such as extreme shortness of breath, chronic tiredness and swollen ankles. At first glance, you may not think these sound too serious, but the reality is they can have a significant effect on a person’s life.
Our heart failure experience is designed to give participants a better understanding of the challenges that heart failure patients face. It covers the full day, from morning to night, and condenses what patients typically experience over a number of years into just one day.
Timed challenges, which are delivered to participants through the smartphone app, and physical items, such as ankle weights that need to be worn throughout the experience, help to give people an idea of the impact physical symptoms can have. Meanwhile, the role play element – phone conversations that cover the impact of heart failure on work and end of life conversations – aim to have a meaningful impact on participants, moving them emotionally while at the same time ensuring it is all an accurate reflection of real patient experiences.
Our heart failure experience has proven successful in increasing patient centric behaviour across the pharmaceutical sector. It has supported R&D and clinical pharma teams during the development phase of heart failure drugs and helped sales executives feel greater empathy for patients and be more confident when talking to stakeholders about the condition.
A Life in a Day: post myocardial infarction
Our second cardiovascular experience focuses on myocardial infarction (MI). This is a major cause of morbidity in the western world and one of the most dramatic presentations of coronary artery disease.
Thankfully, prognosis rates for MI are improving: it is estimated that more than two thirds of men and around nine in 10 women are still alive 14 years or more after their first infarction attack.
Our MI experience is a less intensive patient simulation than some of our others, making it perfect for busy senior executives and clinicians who may not be able to commit to a full day of challenges and role play.
This experience focuses on three main challenges: organising medication (for the experience we use coloured candies), keeping track of calories and ensuring physical activity is built into the day. Through the smartphone app, participants will be given limited tasks to complete, questions to answer and patient experiences to listen to.