Bringing Healthcare Up To Speed
Episode

Dr. Tony Das, System Medical Director for the Baylor Heart Hospital Enterprise & Founder and CEO of Connected Cardiovascular Care Associates in Dallas

Bringing Healthcare Up To Speed

Digital tools will change care from episodic and sporadic to a more complete and contemporary manner.
Welcome to the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, powered by Outcomes Rocket! In this episode, we are honored to listen to Dr. Tony Das, an interventional cardiologist, system medical director for the Baylor Heart Hospital Enterprise, and founder and CEO of Connected Cardiovascular Care Associates in Dallas. He speaks of how adopting digital initiatives can make healthcare better for patients. Tony explains why patients ask for a change in health technology and how adopting innovative tools can automate processes, unify and increase data input, and increase access and engagement to healthcare. He compares these innovations with other industries and the uniformity across different platforms. Dr. Das encourages the next generation to be curious and innovative, so things can keep moving forward.
Tune in to this episode to learn how digital tools permanently change the healthcare space!

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Bringing Healthcare Up To Speed

About Tony Das:

Dr. Tony Das, MD is a nationally recognized board-certified interventional cardiology specialist who graduated from Baylor Medical School in 1990, Harvard Mass General Hospital Internship/Residency in 1993, and Texas Heart Institute Fellowship in 1996 and has been practicing in Dallas since 1996.

 

Dr. Tony S. Das is one of the first cardiologists in Dallas to specifically obtain board certification in Endovascular Interventions for peripheral vascular disease through the SVMB (Society of Vascular Medicine). Specializing in minimally invasive, non-surgical therapy for heart and peripheral vascular disease, he has advanced training in coronary stents, vascular and carotid artery stents, abdominal aneurysm stent grafts, and structural heart conditions such as aortic stenosis with TAVR. Recently Dr. Das has been leading initiatives to create national programs to incorporate remote monitoring for cardiovascular patients using wearable watch devices that record vital signs, heart rhythms, coronary disease, and heart failure. These remote physiologic monitors reduce patient hospitalizations and improve care with fewer office visits which is a trend in innovation in cardiovascular care being led by Dr. Das.

 

Dr. Das serves on the advisory council for several cardiovascular and digital health companies, is actively involved in clinical research, and is a reviewer for several cardiac and vascular journals. His research studies involve evaluating drug-eluting stents, new wires for opening chronic occlusions, carotid stent therapy, and laser technology for treating long SFA occlusions and below-the-knee vascular disease to name a few. Dr. Das has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and teaches at national and international vascular conferences regularly.

 

Care Delivery_Dr. Tony Das: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Care Delivery_Dr. Tony Das: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

OR Care Delivery Intro:
Welcome to the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast. Through conversations with industry leaders and innovators, we uncover ways to simplify how patients and care teams navigate complex care delivery.

Manav Sevak:
Thanks so much for coming on, Tony. Do you want to introduce yourself?

Dr. Tony Das:
Well, thank you very much for having me, Manav. My name is Tony Das, I’m an interventional cardiologist. I serve as the system medical director for the Baylor Heart Hospital Enterprise. I lead in strategy, innovation, and digital health and also help lead the vascular group. I also am the founder and CEO of Connected Cardiovascular Care Associates here in Dallas, which is a digital-first cardiology practice. It’s great to be here this morning.

Manav Sevak:
Awesome, and thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.

Dr. Tony Das:
Appreciate it.

Manav Sevak:
So you have an incredibly interesting background that I’ve gotten to know over the past several months, and particularly, I’ve come to really admire a lot of your perspective on the digital side, especially in the midst of all the transformation that’s happening in healthcare. So honestly, we’d love to hear a little bit of your story. So how you got into healthcare, how you’ve started to kind of transform your practice from being an interventional cardiologist to now focusing a lot more on these different types of digital initiatives? Kind of how did you get to where you are today?

Dr. Tony Das:
It has a long and circuitous path, one of those probably many people can attest to. For me, I mean, taking care of patients has always been a real honor and a gift, I think it starts with that. Patients trust me for their healthcare, and that really leads to other innovations and ways to think about how to care for them in a more complete way. And I knew I was going to be a doctor in the seventh grade. The question was, what was I going to pursue? And so with time, it was obvious that I wanted to do something that allowed me to use my hands, interventional cardiology in my head, which was a subspecialty of internal medicine, which allowed me to kind of look at problems with a lens that kind of took a lot of the inputs that I was observing over time and put them towards patient care. So for the first part of my background, I did training at places like the Mass General Hospital and saw what high-quality doctors were doing to take care of internal medicine, and then I went on to the Texas Heart Institute where I’m in cardiology. Then, when I went into practice, essentially it was about clinical cardiology, growing a practice, and being involved with research and teaching. And even as a private practitioner, I was publishing articles and teaching at national and international conferences, and doing procedures, but I recognized that ultimately there was going to be a need for digital health to be part of this untethering of patient care. So I started getting involved and interested in digital projects back in 2012, 2013. Started working with a wearable company called LIVMOR, and their device was ultimately FDA approved with the highest sensitivity and specificity of AFib detection, but that sort of opened up the floodgates to what we could do with patients when they weren’t in the hospital, or they weren’t in the office. We were able to do evaluation and testing on those patients and be able to have a pulse on what was happening with them. And so that’s really kind of got me interested in the whole digital space, and that’s where we are now, in founding this new practice, which is sort of a digital-first program.

Manav Sevak:
Yeah, no, that’s incredibly fascinating. It’s also just, it’s rare to hear that even before a lot of digital tools started getting a lot of attention that they do today and have been put in the spotlight, that you kind of had the foresight around spending a lot of time on how things like that can improve your practice, so that’s incredible. And related to that, we’d love to get your perspective on how you’ve seen the industry change, especially over the past, call it, 10 to 12 years. So let’s say since the Affordable Care Act passed, since there’s been a much greater focus on consumerism because of the pandemic, there’s been tons and tons of ways that care delivery has looked different. So what’s your perspective on how receptive you’re seeing care teams are to different types of adopting digital tools and generally how you think the industry has changed that, their outlook on them?

Dr. Tony Das:
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think one of the things that the healthcare industry has got to get more comfortable with is early adoption of unique tools to be able to help automate the process. I mean, the tech sector, in general, has kind of been taught, you know, make things and break things fast and then learn what works and use that. That’s really counterintuitive to us in medicine because we’re more research-oriented, we’re more data-driven, so we’re slower to adopt, as you well know. You know, the cycle for adoption in healthcare systems can be slow, but I think we need to be more open-minded to tech change because it is what patients/our consumers are asking for and you know, they’re able to get on to their phone or get onto another device and order food and get cars and schedule appointments and shop and do things, you know, at the touch of their cell phone. And in healthcare, that’s still not completely able to be done. I mean, heck, we’re still using fax machines sometimes for sharing information, and I think that that’s what the industry has continued to evolve from and needs to evolve to, is untethering the care in ways that patients will be more, better, better treated, better access to care for doing things like that. And ultimately, that’s going to lead to more uniformity in care because we’re going to be communicating in ways that allow us to know what’s going on with patients kind of on a more contemporary basis as opposed to very sporadic or episodically.

Manav Sevak:
Yeah, no, absolutely. And you mentioned that healthcare naturally has not necessarily chosen to adopt digital tools at the same speed or in the same way that other industries have or, generally, how the tech sector has progressed. If you had to, I think one thing that’s always interesting for me and the audience to hear is, you know, there’s a lot of other sectors that have similar problems that healthcare does, really large legacy systems really, let’s say, complex populations and end users that they have to be able to manage. And it’d be great to get your perspective on when you think about other industries that you think have done a really good job of innovating and adapting to the status quo really well and the reality of how we need to be able to engage patients or consumers today, are there any particular industries that you turn to for inspiration outside of healthcare?

Dr. Tony Das:
Well, I mean, I think that really any industry that has learned to engage their customer base, and for us, it’s patients, in order to be able to better suit them. I think that you know, finance and fintech has been one of those that’s been able to do it well. I think the retail space has done it incredibly well when they changed from sort of bricks and mortar into more online access to things. But I think that one thing that healthcare has been really good at is the speed of innovation in medical devices in that space and really miniaturizing those devices and the strong push to moving those procedures from inpatient to outpatient. So healthcare, in general, is an innovative space, it’s just that I think that the hesitation is more on the consumer-facing part of it, as opposed to once you’re in a healthcare environment, the sort of rapid speed of adoption of innovative technologies, research, and things like that. So it’s a little bit of a disparity that I think needs to be, needs to come together. If patients are going to get outstanding and excellent care, and we feel like we provide that, they also need to feel as if they get high-touch concierge service like they would in any other industry, whether it’s in the travel industry or whether it’s in the consumer retail industry or whatever. I think we need to learn from those places. I mean, if I can get on my phone and make an appointment somewhere easily and I can’t do that with my healthcare provider because of the way the process is, we’ve got to learn from those places for simplistic things like that. Once they get into our ecosystem of care, I think that we’re now changing the way that we do things from, kind of an individualistic approach, to more of a teams approach, and that’s something worth exploring a little bit too, in our conversation today is, what’s really changed in the way that we deliver healthcare. And I think that we deliver healthcare differently, but part of what we don’t do is we don’t engage people between the episodic events, and that’s where digital, I think, is going to come in.

Manav Sevak:
Yeah, absolutely, and love to hear that perspective. So we’re running a little short on time here, and there’s really two, I think, big things that I’m sure folks would love to hear from you. And I think the first one is, you know, you’re working on this really fascinating kind of first-of-its-kind digital first cardiology clinic. And related to that, even in the conversations that we’ve had personally, have shared a lot about different, interesting tools that you think are starting to appear in healthcare, especially whether software tools and new devices, things like that. Are there any particular, let’s say, whether it’s trends or particular, let’s say, companies or even particular innovations that you’re starting to see or that you’re thinking, spending a lot of time thinking about whether it’s at the Baylor Scott White, with your Baylor Scott White hat on, whether it’s with the private practice hat on. Any particular, kind of, trends or innovations that are really exciting to you?

Dr. Tony Das:
Yeah, I think that there’s a couple of sort of broad themes here. I think that digital health is such a big category. It’s almost impossible to just talk about it in its broadness, but I think that one of the things that I’m most interested in is starting to parse the disparate pieces of healthcare information into more unified applications. So, in other words, back into APIs that allow us to take information from remote, imaging systems, remote digital health, remote monitoring, other ways of input data into a more unified system, and then also using that larger database to take what we would think would be kind of supervised or unsupervised data points and be able to make decisions on care is kind of where I think that this whole space is going. So remote monitoring sensor technology is just kind of the beginning to untethering the patients from their episodic care, but ultimately having a dashboard to be able to tell how patients are doing kind of in-between these visits that allows multiple inputs to come in. And, you know, companies like yours are doing that in ways that are engaging patients that I think are fascinating. I think that there’s others out there, too, that recognize that healthcare is pretty disparate and the cost of healthcare goes up and the access goes down when physicians and patients and technology aren’t communicating with each other. So that’s probably my biggest motivation in developing and working with companies that do this type of thing, is to try to understand how to take disparate information and put it together. And I think that maybe the term blockchain is not popular right now, but I think that quickly, this is going to be one of those things where if you have good, solid information, it’s immutable, and it’s verifiable, and it’s able to be shared, I think that you can use that technology to make healthcare more uniform across multiple platforms, and I think that there may be some real utility to that.

Manav Sevak:
Yeah, no, absolutely. Super, super helpful to hear. And the last question I’d have for you is: you’ve spent a lot of time with different digital health companies, with different device companies, with even EMR vendors over your illustrious career. If you were to maybe give advice to new people, whether it’s physicians who are just early in their careers or to people who are starting to build in this space and entrepreneurs, what’s the advice that you would give them around where healthcare is as an industry right now and what they can do to actually be successful and in building like a quote-unquote next generation practice?

Dr. Tony Das:
That’s a great question. You know, to me, it’s always been the same question. I think Clayton Christensen is the one that basically posed it, which is, find a solution for a problem. So I think we’re constantly looking at the current way in which we do things and an innovator looks at those same processes and workflows and says, how can we do this more efficiently? What is it that we’re missing? What’s the problem that we’re trying to solve and really dig down on to what that problem is? Because the problem that we see in healthcare is that it is very slow, there are antiquated processes, and unless you’re looking to innovate those processes in ways that change the workflow that people will adopt to and use tools that do that, you’re probably going to keep doing the same thing over and over. And I think for a young person coming into the space, I would say, constantly be curious about what else you can possibly do. I mean, I was probably the oldest person in the MIT blockchain program this last year, and I can tell you that it’s interesting that people look at it like, why would you be interested in blockchain or in the Stanford lead program or something that’s going to not maybe be something you’re using, so because that’s where we learn how to take other technologies and put them into healthcare, and that’s the only way we’re going to move this space forward. So that’s the advice I’d give them. Just stay curious.

Manav Sevak:
Love it. Love to hear it. Awesome, well, thank you so much for coming on, Tony. Really appreciated the perspective. I’m sure the audience will as well, and we will chat again soon.

Dr. Tony Das:
All right, appreciate it, Manav.

OR Care Delivery Outro:
Thanks for listening to the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast. For more ideas on simplifying complex care for care teams and patients, visit MemoraHealth.com.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • In medicine, adopting newer digital initiatives usually takes longer because of the field’s research-oriented nature.
  • Healthcare has not necessarily chosen to adopt digital tools at the same speed or in the same way that other industries have.
  • When it comes to medical devices or moving procedures from inpatient to outpatient, healthcare has been quick to implement or change.
  • Patients are looking to feel they get high-touch concierge service in healthcare like they would in any other industry.
  • When physicians and patients and technology aren’t communicating with each other the cost of healthcare goes up and access goes down.
  • Blockchain technologies can make healthcare more uniform across multiple platforms.

Resources:

About Memora Health:

Memora Health is the leading technology platform for virtual care delivery and complex care management. Memora partners with leading health systems, health plans, life science companies, and digital health companies to transform the care delivery process for patients and care teams. The company’s platform digitizes and automates complex care workflows, supercharging care teams by intelligently triaging patient-reported concerns and data to appropriate care team members and providing patients with proactive, two-way communication on their care journeys.