Dawn Smith/Libin Institute
Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta
Cardiology resident Dr. Derek Chew recently received an honourable mention in the American College of Cardiology’s Young Investigator Awards in the category of Outcomes Research.
Chew, who is nearing the completion of his residency, earned the accolade for studying the cost effectiveness of left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) in cardiac transplant ineligible patients, a project he undertook with the supervision of Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta’s Dr. Derek Exner, MD, a cardiologist, heart rhythm specialist and professor at the University of Calgary.
Chew said he was surprised to learn he was one of six finalists in the competition, which receives submissions from all over North America, as well as the Middle East and Europe.
“The recognition was wonderful,” said Chew, who explained he attended the ACC’s 66th annual Scientific Session in Washington where he presented his work to a panel of judges.
Chew studied the cost effectiveness of utilizing LVADs, surgically implanted mechanical heart pumps, as a permanent therapy for patients in advanced heart failure within the Canadian health care setting.
Chew explained that, at least in Canada, LVADs are usually given to patients waiting for a heart transplant and less commonly used as a permanent therapy for patients ineligible for a transplant.
However, with improvements in technology, the use of LVADs for this purpose is more likely to increase, explained Chew.
Chew’s research showed that while LVADs save lives and improve quality of life for patients, using LVADs as a permanent solution does not meet the current threshold to be considered cost effective.
He came to this conclusion by creating a model to analyze the quality of life and life expectancies and to project lifetime accrued costs of patients both with and without the LVADs.
Chew earned his medical degree in Toronto and came to the University of Calgary for his residency because of the Cumming School of Medicine’s internal medicine and cardiology programs.
He mentioned the great mentorship within the University, citing Libin members Dr. Braden Manns, a nephrologist, and Exner as examples.
During his time here, he has developed an interest in electrophysiology and is planning to pursue a clinical fellowship in the specialty after completing his residency this summer.
His research focus will be on health-care economics and outcomes research, an interest he developed due to the ballooning and unsustainable costs of health care.
Chew is hoping to help inform changes to improve cost efficiency and better improve patient experience.
“Policy changes are necessary, but there needs to be systematic research to support the changes,” he said.