The Cardiovascular Disease Taskforce: future of digital and innovative CVD care

The Department for Health and Social Care announced in March the UK’s first ever cardiovascular diseases prevention taskforce. Led by well-established cardiologist Professor Deanfield, the taskforce will work to produce radical approaches to diagnose and prevent life-threatening cardiovascular diseases, mainly through the adoption of innovative technologies and digitalisation. Through the uptake of innovative technologies, the taskforce aims to complement the wider NHSE priorities such as reducing pressure on emergency services and producing sustainable measures against major conditions.

The taskforce will gather experts on health policy, health technology and economics to develop a set of recommendations that focus on diagnosing and treating major risk factors for CVD, advise on how individuals and businesses could be incentivized to support prevention outside of the NHS, utilise personalized data to manage CVD more effectively, and create new partnerships to innovate the way in which NHSE delivers care to homes and communities.

The health services in England have been hit by a continuation of nation-wide strikes among nurses and doctors whilst trying to bring health services to pre-COVID standards. These developments had an enormous impact on early detection and the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases, such as interruptions in scanning and detection services, and delays in diagnosis and treatment due to shortage of staff and medical equipment. This is reflected in the growing number of excess deaths in England caused by cardiac arrests and other heart related major conditions, demonstrating how critical the work of the CVD prevention taskforce is.

The NHS is now taking a leap towards innovation and technology in the diagnosis and treatment of CVD. Such examples include the CAR-T AI technology that detects CVD years before it develops, and TAVI, an innovative minimally invasive surgical procedure that simplifies heart operations for the NHS staff as well the patient, that has just received expanded commissioning guidelines to be able to treat a wider proportion of aortic stenosis patients. The taskforce will play a significant role in supervising these innovative developments and seeking to integrate their wider use into the NHS for the future of digitalized and innovative heart care. Given Professor Deanfield’s area of expertise and focus on digital health during the NHS Health Check programme review last year, the digitalisation of cardiovascular care is expected to become a key ambition for the next six months of his appointment.

The plan provides a holistic approach to the healthcare system in England by reducing emergency transmissions to hospitals through innovative and digital measures in CVD detection and prevention. The taskforce also signals the UK’s ambition and effort in taking global leadership in developing innovative and digital solutions to prominent health needs, inevitably digitalizing and developing a sustainable and future-looking heart care for patients across England and the devolved nations. The full recommendations of the taskforce will be published later this year, potentially shaping cardiovascular care for years to come.