By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
“With the diagnostic and treatment techniques available today, successful and safe treatment of venous disease conditions is the norm,” according to Dr. Steven Zimmet, President of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM). “Yet many patients don’t realize this, and many physicians in other fields and disciplines are not aware of this.”
In our continuing series of healthcare audio podcasts, Lonnie Hirsch, Co-Founder of Healthcare Success talked with Dr. Zimmet about current issues and challenges in the field of venous and lymphatic medicine.
Patient and Physician Education
Marketing, communications and education can play an important role in reaching and educating both patients and physicians. Most people who have venous disease don’t proactively seek treatment or understand the health implications and risks associated with their symptoms. Even people who seek treatment don’t really understand their treatment options.
“There’s a tremendous and important opportunity to educate the lay public, professional colleagues, insurance companies and other agencies,” Dr. Zimmet told us. “This is a critical area, partly because venous disease is incredibly common—probably up to 33 percent of adult women having some form of venous disease—and partly because there’s a lot of ignorance about it.
“Patients don’t generally understand much about their veins and they might not be aware of the cause of their leg problems or how to go about finding qualified physicians to obtain appropriate evaluation and treatment.
“There a lot of people who can play a role in trying to bridge that gap and improve education and understanding. It can come from the individual physician and the kind of information they put on their website [as well as] other kinds of communications materials to societies and to industries.”
Standardized and Strengthened Medical Curriculum
What’s more, part of the issue is that there has been little formal teaching about venous disease in medical training. With this in mind, Dr. Zimmet discussed the work of the ABVLM Curriculum Task Force developing a standardized curriculum in the field for treatment of venous disease.
“Physicians who treat venous disease come from a variety of specialty backgrounds, and there can be some real benefits to that because people bring knowledge from different areas, Dr. Zimmet explained. But, “there is no single specialty today that routinely provides a comprehensive curriculum covering the full spectrum of venous disease. I think that most objective physicians would agree that the venous curriculum, even in current vascular specialties, would benefit from being standardized and strengthened.”
In our audio interview today, Dr. Zimmet discussed these and other key issues in this medical specialty, including:
- significant trends in treatment—becoming less invasive and more targeted, with a high degree of success and safety;
- organizational name change—the important and timely reasons for the change from the American Board of Phlebology to the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine;
- diversity of medical specialties—vascular surgeons, cardiovascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists and interventional radiologists, general surgeons, dermatologists and others—who treat venous disease;
- Diplomates of the ABVLM—reflecting this diversity of specialties from both surgical and non-surgical fields; and
- the process and requirements for a doctor to become an ABVLM Diplomate.
It’s an interesting and timely update from and important medical specialty. LISTEN to our conversation with Dr. Steven E. Zimmet.
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Steven E. Zimmet, MD, is President of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine, formerly the American Board of Phlebology. Dr. Zimmet has been practicing in Austin, Texas for over 30 years and he has given over 70 presentations at national and international medical conferences and authored numerous articles for internationally recognized medical journals. Since 2007, Dr. Zimmet has served as editor for Phlebology: The Journal of Venous Disease.
The XVII International Union of Phlebology World Meeting comes to the United States for the first time in its history. Hosted by the American College of Phlebology, the meeting will be held at Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA, September 8-13, 2013. Lonnie Hirsch will be attending, and Healthcare Success will be exhibiting at this international event.