2011 Award Winner Profile

Israel PH Association

by Dr. Yosef Gotlieb
Board Member, Israel PH Association

Attendees pack the room at the PH conference in Tel Aviv

Attendees pack the room at the PH conference in Tel Aviv

Primary care providers are often the first doctors to encounter a patient struggling with pulmonary hypertension. However, their lack of familiarity with the disease leads to misdiagnosis, delays in diagnosis and postponement in treatment for many patients. This realization prompted our conference, “PH: Profile of the Disease,” held at a Tel Aviv hotel on June 16, 2011, with nearly 100 clinicians and researchers in attendance.

The sessions, which consisted of 40-minute lectures by specialists, featured highly focused briefings on different dimensions of the disease. Following each lecture, the floor was opened for questions from the audience. Lecture topics included when to suspect PH, types of PH, treatment options, the complexity of care and research on diagnosis and treatment. The hall was so packed with attendees that extra chairs had to be brought in so attendees could listen to Israel’s top PH specialists lecture on the disease. Despite a physicians’ strike in Israel at the time, attendance at our conference was robust.

One of the sessions, a panel discussion dealing with the complexity of care, included the director of a respiratory rehabilitation unit at a Jerusalem pediatric hospital, a family physician, a support group counselor, a technician providing home care support and a patient. Everyone agreed that awareness of PH among non-specialist physicians and clinical staff was imperative and that family physicians play a critical role in coordinating treatment across the various specialties and agencies involved in patient care.

Our seminar, held on the Tel Aviv shore, also included several breaks that allowed participants, lecturers and PHA Israel board members to meet each other and network. Conversations continued over lunch, and following the meal, everyone returned for a final session dealing with research horizons, including new possibilities in drug and cell therapies.

One important outcome of the event was the formation of an Experts Council of PH specialists who will create policy and provide guidance on the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of PH patients. Our conference, made possible by PHA’s Lantos Grant Program, was a resounding success, and we intend to continue a series of educational programs for the medical community.