‘High performing teams’ was the theme for this year’s British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) Annual Conference 2018, held in Manchester in June. It was opened by Dr Sarah Clarke, in one of the last acts of her distinguished three years as BCS president. Dr Matthew Ryan reports the conference highlights.
The expansive conference programme explored how effective teamwork is defined across a number of non-clinical environments including big business, sport, motor racing and the armed forces, relating the lessons from each sector to contemporary practice in cardiovascular medicine. Dovetailing with these headline sessions, we saw a wide-ranging display of innovation across the clinical, academic, technological and entrepreneurial sectors that really made the 2018 conference a year to remember.
The benefits of building a high performing team are apparent to all of us, but how do we build such a team in the challenging environment of the NHS in 2018? Dr Doug Gurr (Country Manager, Amazon, UK, and current Chair of the British Heart Foundation) delivered an engaging keynote lecture entitled ‘A high performing team’. He described how Amazon has recognised teamwork as a central pillar of its global expansion and left a lasting message: ensure each individual is aware of their contribution to the outcome, and then succeed or fail together.
National trainees day
Following directly from Dr Gurr, the auditorium played host to ‘MDT Live’, an established part of the national trainees’ day. Following the conference theme, this session promoted the value of trainees to the cardiovascular team. The hosting of this in the auditorium drew a bigger audience and a feeling that conference places shared educational experiences at the front and centre of the programme. The audience and MDT panel were served with three complex cases of non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (MI). Each case stimulated passionate and thought-provoking discussion: key themes that emerged were the heterogenous availability of advanced imaging, the challenge of diagnosing MI in patients with multiple comorbidities, and whether we should offer indicated but structural interventions to patients with significant frailty or without capacity to consent to them.
Following the informative results of the recent British Junior Cardiologists’ Association (BJCA) Survey, the training day continued with another new session for 2018, the BJCA trainee quiz. The room was packed and the session entertaining and educational in equal measure.
The affiliated group sessions remained popular and instructive as ever. For example, the British Society of Echocardiography session provided both world-leading clinical insight and personal reflections from Professor Catherine Otto (Editor-in-Chief of Heart). Her hand-written note as a medical student “echo not useful for severity of aortic stenosis” was a reminder of the pace of change in this specialty and the crucial role of academic clinicians within it. There wasn’t long to wait before seeing the next generation of such individuals in the Young Investigator and Spotlight on British Heart Foundation Fellows session. The quality of both the work and presentations was exceptional and a great advertisement for British cardiovascular research.
The ‘Hot topics’ sessions were frequently standing-room only. These sessions so often provide answers to those niggling scenarios you feel you haven’t quite got your head around, and this year was no different, with a range of expert talks and lively discussion across the spectrum of intervention, electrophysiology and devices, imaging, heart failure, adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) and sports cardiology. As with previous years, the hot topics were often tailored to trainees needs, both clinical (handling on-call emergencies) and professional (advice on applying for fellowships and consultant interviews). New to the programme for 2018 was the highly topical social media session. Erudite explanations on both the benefits and pitfalls of these platforms in the future of our practice were laid clear.
As well as the established simulator sessions and imaging village, the hall also played host to the new Innovation Zone. Built to place both academic and commercial innovation at the centre of the programme, this area hosted a range of presentations from MedTech start-ups’ and clinical entrepreneurs, as well as the authors of the three top-scoring scientific abstracts from each sub-specialty.
Closing out the ‘High performing teams’ theme of the conference and again new to the programme was the ‘How Safe is Your Team’ session. Hopefully a permanent fixture for the future, the session was a rallying call for all of those who acknowledge that in an era of constant development we always strive to prevent harm and get the basics right. Following the top 10 trials session, the closing ceremony was an opportunity to underline the key messages of the three prior days, thank those whose contributions are critical to the success of the conference and present some final awards. These included the winners of the inaugural BCS Hackathon, an ‘innovation Multi-Disciplinary Meeting’, where specialists gathered over 48 hours to develop solutions to common ‘pinch-points’ in service delivery. Unlike a traditional MDT, members of the innovation teams hailed from diverse backgrounds such as software designers, medical technology entrepreneurs, journalists, venture capitalists, surgeons and physicians. The final results were inarguably impressive and demonstrate the power of organisations like the BCS to initiate meaningful change in the current healthcare climate.
Trainee Rep, BCS Programme Committee