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First day of the Effective Medical Assessment Conference: Key highlights and takeaways

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Sponsored by MESI Ltd., the Effective Medical Assessment Conference (EMAC) brought together medical professionals and other stakeholders interested in the latest digital solutions in the diagnostic field. The turnout was a great success – more than 300 attendees from numerous parts of the world. The  attendance is proof that digital technology makes a difference in bringing people together and facilitating numerous processes despite the obstacles we currently face. The conference aims to shed light at how digitalisation can enhance the medical field, how it is already making a difference and what developments we can look forward to in not so distant future. 

The conference was opened by Jakob Šušterič, CEO and co-founder of MESI. He presented the brand new concept of predictive medical assessment (PMA). This assessment will be based on AI algorithms that will use digital data from diagnostic apps and patient history to help detect conditions early, predict future results based on past ones, and recommend actions. This will assist medics as a helpful tool and source of insight. PMA will be a feature of the MESI mTaBLET, a digital solution that already has positive results on the medical workflow due to offering diverse diagnostic measurements and all patient records in one system.  

Jaka Strel, MD discussed the pros and cons of going wireless during COVID-19. The pandemic uncovered issues in primary care and drastically changed its operation. A dangerous consequence is a decline in screening tests and thus the danger of overlooking chronic patients. Going wireless and digital means administrative relief of GP staff, less probably errors and more time for patients. The MESI mTABLET has made a different to Dr. Strel’s GP practice and home visits; it is portable, stores all data in one place and enables instant result sharing with specialists for a second opinion.   

Next was Rok Perme, MD, PhD, who highlighted the cardiovascular impact of COVID-19. Most general COVID-19 discussion focusses on the respiratory aspects of this condition, so this angle was highly insightful. COVID-19 results in endothelial activation and dysfunction, which is especially threatening in cases of old age, hypertension, diabetes and established cardiovascular disease. Infections with SARS-CoV-2 have been defined as probable triggers of vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. COVID-19 could also influence atherosclerosis, which causes over 90% of PAD.  

Prof. Bojan Vrtovec, MD, PhD presented the assessment and management of heart failure. He discussed the following heart management strategies: heart replacement (heart transplantation, total artificial heart) and heart repair (mechanical support, stem cell therapy). Slovenia was the world’s leading country in heart transplantations in 2020; it also has the highest reported stem cell transplant rates in Europe. It is also interesting that the median heart donor age in Europe is older than in other parts of the world, reaching 45 in 2012, e.g. compared to the US, where it is under 30.  

Matjaž Špan, MD denoted lower-extremity arterial assessment as key in PAD prevention. High-risk groups should be screened for PAD because 75% of people with this condition are asymptomatic. Manageable risk factors include smoking, diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Serious PAD outcomes include amputations and death. ABI has been a game changer in first-line PAD diagnostics. Moreover, automated TBI measuring devices have successfully bridged the gap in diagnosing patients who previously could not be screened with ABI. 

Assist. Prof. Jana Brguljan, MD, PhD spoke on redefining the blood pressure measurement. Taking blood pressure is one of the foundations of standard diagnostic assessment. Dr. Brguljan presented the prevalence, awareness, treatment and control​ of hypertension around the world. This was followed by the advantages and limitations of office BP measurements. Technology is making a difference in this field: according to some research, the use of automated blood pressure device can partly eliminate the white coat effect. Solutions like ABPM have also been in focus recently. 

Sandrine Millasseau, PhD discussed the clinical value of measuring Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV). PWV is an integrative biomarker, and has been extensively studied as an independent predictor of CV morbidity and mortality. Measuring PWV is vital as pulsatile fatigue and CV risk factors can appear with age. Early vascular ageing is characterised by high arterial wall damage and/or high arterial stiffness and thus high PWV. The advantages of the MESI mTABLET were highlighted as it offers a 2-in-1 measurement: ABI and PWV. 

The lecture by Anže Žgank, MD focussed on the execution and advantages the 6-minute walk test (6MWT, 6MWD). 6MWT is a highly useful but not sufficiently employed tool for assessing the functional capacity of patients and the effects of therapeutic interventions. Studies show that 6MWD is a better predictor of mortality than FEV1, FVC and FEV1/FVC. Furthermore, in patients with pulmonary hypertension, a 6MWD over 500 m indicates good prognosis, whereas a 6MWD less than 300 m indicates poor prognosis. 6MWD can also help discover silent hypoxia in COVID-19 patients. 

Ivan Pecev, MD highlighted the importance of spirometry in primary care. In the last decade, spirometry has become standard equipment at GP offices. It aids the differentiation between cardiovascular and respiratory issues, helps diagnose COPD and asthma and evaluate their treatment, and contributes to the screening of patients with risk factors. The spirometry procedure was illustrated in detail, along with the advantages of the MESI mTABLET SPIRO, which automatically selects the best of all measurements and stores all the data in one place (MESI m RECORDS).  

Thank you for attending the conference. Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow