Big systems have a responsibility to reach rural patients, pediatric heart leader says

For Shelley Miyamoto, MD, there were two reasons to become a cardiologist: The mentors she encountered during residency who inspired her and the physiology of the heart.

Dr. Miyamoto was recently appointed head of pediatric cardiology for Aurora-based Children's Hospital Colorado. She said the best leadership advice she received as she stepped into her new role was, "Do my very best to uphold the culture. If you can develop a culture of inclusivity, of support and sponsorship, of collegiality, then a lot of other things will fall into place. We have an incredible team, and there's not a lot I need to do to lead them, so my focus is to uphold the culture and ensure we are recruiting people that align with the culture."

Becker's sat down with her to discuss what excites her, what worries her and what she's most proud of.

Looking ahead, she said she is most excited about the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning in medicine

"I'm most excited about how we are going to harness the power of artificial intelligence like other fields and how we can use artificial intelligence and machine learning to personalize care for patients, especially when we are dealing with rare diseases like we are in pediatric cardiology," Dr. Miyamoto told Becker's.

On the other hand, Dr. Miyamoto said she is most concerned about the healthcare landscape and how to provide comprehensive care in a challenging financial environment. 

"We are dealing with patients who have complex disease that lasts a lifespan, and that is associated with a lot of family and child stress. Providing adequate mental, emotional and behavioral services is critical to their quality of life, and that's a challenge because we struggle with reimbursement and support from the state."

However, Dr. Miyamoto said she is most proud of the quality care her system offers across the region, not just in Colorado. She said their service region harbors seven states, including Wyoming and Montana. Many of the rural communities do not have any pediatric cardiologists, and there are no pediatric heart surgery programs in many of the surrounding states, she said.

"We're using telehealth, we're sending our cardiologists to different areas in the region to make sure that we're accessible to patients. Our responsibility as bigger centers in these areas is to ensure we're providing care to these outlying areas."

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