Wil Woan

Wil Woan worked at the Big Lottery Fund for 12 years, where he spent time as an assessor, an outreach officer and a policy lead for a range of investment programmes. Wil was appointed CEO of the UK patient charity Heart Valve Voice on 1st January 2016. He is also Chair of the Heart Valve Patient Council of the Global Heart Hub and co-founder of European Heart Valve Disease Week.

World Heart Day is approaching and it deserves to be highlighted that as patient advocates in the heart valve disease sector, our relationship with the medtech industry is as important as our partnership with the medical profession and the healthcare system. We base this relationship upon the ethos of innovation, information and independence. I see innovation as key to patient outcomes and quality of life and I believe that it comes from that all-important collaboration between industry and physicians. We are very fortunate that advances in treating heart valve disease with groundbreaking transcatheter procedures have completely transformed the landscape for patients. A decade ago, most patients either received no treatment or they endured an open-heart surgical operation. Granted, open-heart surgery has been a very successful procedure for nearly 60 years. However, it is very invasive, and recovery can be long and hard; especially for the elderly population. Now many people can have their valves replaced or repaired while awake staying in hospital for a matter of days and returning very quickly to a good quality of life. The first step to treatment is disease detection where we are also experiencing promising developments. New types of digital stethoscope are not only making detection much more reliable, but they offer the promise of allowing detection in the community with practice nurses and pharmacists. Even before detection, it is important that future patients, their families and carers are aware of the disease and their potential options. I see, even amongst the oldest patients, a growing thirst to be informed. They are more likely than ever to be connected online, searching for information and joining communities to talk with others about their condition. The medtech industry needs to embrace this by being as open as possible about their clinical studies and their data. We...