Medtronic UK:  Your Heart Matters Bus

Promoting Patient Safety During COVID Times Using the ANGIO Mentor

Recognizing a need and adapting in a rapidly changing environment created by COVID-19. The Your Heart Matters Bus offers an innovative way to bring training, education and market development opportunities to our customers.

The following is based on an interview with Violaine Carlier, Heart Valves Marketing Manager | UK & Ireland

The Challenge

The first 3-4 months of COVID-19 brought uncertainty as to how cardiologists and surgeons would be able to avail of vital training, given they couldn’t travel to training programs and our teams were understandably not permitted to enter hospitals. We provided as much virtual training as possible, but physicians were losing out on very important hands-on elements of the training.

The Solution

Medtronic opted for an innovative solution in a double decker bus, that would be fully converted into a mobile training facility. This would allow us to meet right outside their hospital, and remove all aspects of travelling for training – a win-win for everyone. I found a local company that specializes in converting and transforming buses. I always had an idea of what I wanted in terms of space, due to our Simbionix ANGIO Mentor simulator and two other simulators. We created a training space versatile enough to be used in many scenarios, including presentations, hands-on training for surgeons, wet labs with pig hearts, or hands-on training for cardiologists with TAVI simulators. It was obvious, this is the path we needed to take.

Safety in general was a huge consideration, with particular focus on COVID-19. We changed the location of the back door and re-designed the entire internal space across the 2 levels to ensure a one-flow system through the bus.  We began the project in November 2020 and it was completed after 5 months.

Simulation Training

We have three types of simulators for TAVI training on board the bus. With the versatility of the bus we move around as we need to suit.  We use the Simbionix ANGIO Mentor for all our trainings because it gives us the opportunity to discuss best practices for TAVI, the device, different scenarios, complications management and it is used for one-on-one training, where we have more hands-on requirements.

Diverse Uses

The bus is used for several purposes:

Training TAVI Teams: Medtronic put the simulators on the bus and delivers training to the hospital, for one or two days, depending on the needs.

Bringing Education for Physicians and Patients: We want the physicians and patients to think “heart valve disease” and to make sure that patients’ treatments don’t get delayed. From the moment the patient starts having symptoms of aortic stenosis the mortality rate is 50% at two years, so the treatment of aortic stenosis cannot be delayed, and with COVID-19 the waiting list is longer. We want to make sure that patients’ treatment not delayed two years.

  • Education for heart teams: Heart teams use the bus to go and see physicians in local hospitals and educate them about structural heart disease. It’s basically building a bridge between the local hospitals who see the patients regularly and the heart teams who eventually treat the patients. The purpose is to teach the local teams when is the right time to send patients and what the heart teams are going to offer them.
  • Patient Education – We collaborate with patient associations, like Heart Valve Voice or Arrythmia Alliance to reach out to patients directly in public spaces and listen to patient’s heart, take their pulse and blood pressure, and if needed perform an echo examination.
    We want to educate patients to notice the symptoms of aortic stenosis and empower them to ask their GPs to listen to their heart and if they have a murmur refer them to echo quickly, so their treatment is not delayed.

The Outcome

The bus helped physicians by saying “we are going to come to your door, and you don’t need to take the time off work”. They appreciated that we do whatever we can to make it happen.

The bus allowed us to promote safety, which is what we are aiming to achieve at any time, whether it’s COVID-related safety or procedure safety – we want to train physicians to perform TAVI so that the patient is safe in their hands. The ANGIO Mentor simulator allows us to do that full training that is required and it’s perfect that the bus works well with the Simbionix training.

The Future

The bus was designed with COVID in mind, but we are not going to limit ourselves to support physicians in this way only during the COVID period. COVID has allowed us to change a lot in our lives and work. Prior to COVID we used to do much more in-person training, physicians had to take two days off work to get trained. Now the theoretical part is virtual, which is much more time efficient, and we travel to hospitals for hands-on training.  It works well for COVID but I am pretty sure it’s going to work well when COVID is gone.

The bus will not replace all hands-on training, but will help us make sure that all of the physicians who have their theory training will have their hands-on training done to finalize their certification.