Recognizing Disparities: Medtech’s Role in Equitable PAD Care

Recognizing Disparities: Medtech’s Role in Equitable PAD Care

by JD Meler, MD, Vice President Medical & Clinical Affairs, BD Peripheral Intervention

With increasing recognition of the need to address health inequities, MedTech is poised to play a key role in ensuring technologies not only exist but are accessible to populations that face some of the greatest health disparities. AdvaMed’s Principles on Health Equity nicely positions our industry’s commitment to advancing health equity. After years as a physician treating peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and now as a medical director examining the problem on a macro level, I believe there is ample opportunity for MedTech to better understand the communities we serve, advance disease awareness and clinical education, and continue to innovate to meet healthcare’s greatest needs. 

While there have been important advancements in peripheral artery disease (PAD) over the past 20 years, maintenance and quality of equitable care lags. Socioeconomic realities, geography, co-morbidity management, race and healthcare coverage are factors that can limit advancements for specific populations. U.S. studies indicate that the likelihood that a person will be affected by PAD during their lifetime is 30% for Black males and 27% for Black females, compared to 22% for Hispanic and 19% for White adults.[i]

The first step in addressing these factors is to understand the community. Disparities, including access to quality health care, disadvantage underserved populations, which are more likely to be Black or Hispanic.[ii] When diseases such as diabetes and hypercholesterolemia go unmanaged, PAD is more likely to progress.

Driving awareness of PAD for both patients and healthcare professionals is key to getting ahead of disease progression. This includes considering non-traditional methods of reaching patients, such as utilizing community centers, churches, and schools. Addressing systematic disparities may also include policy changes, such as increased accessibility and coverage for screening. It is also critical that PAD interventionalists connect to the continuum of care, extending to the general practitioner, podiatrist, endocrinologist, and others. Coalescing these clinicians around early detection and regimen management of diabetes, hypercholesterolism, and PAD can help extend awareness to patients and improve prevention, screening, and management of these diseases.

As MedTech companies, we must continue to work within our community of healthcare providers and physician groups to provide world-class clinical education that can be applied to various care settings. This could include increasing hands-on training and availability of digital resources.

While innovation alone cannot solve the issue of health disparities in PAD, it plays an important role. Better, more accessible screening tools, including personal risk factor profiles, can be the first step to earlier detection, which equates to more care options. Advancements in technology are crucial for below-the-knee disease, small vessel interventions, and complex access. With the right tools, more can be done to help these patients earlier and more effectively.

The health disparity statistics around PAD show a clear opportunity for improvement. As a conglomerate of clinicians, we have an opportunity to share learnings about disease management across communities to ultimately do better for our patients and create a more equitable health system.

[i] Health Disparities in Peripheral Artery Disease: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2023;148:286-296.

[ii] Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Peripheral Artery Disease. Circulation Research. Eddie L. Hackler III, Naomi M. Hamburg and Khendi T. White Solaru. Originally published 10 Jun 2021 Research. 2021;128:1913–1926