Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common abnormal heart rhythm, affecting
nearly 2% of the world’s population at a cost of $26 Billion in the United States annually, and incalculable costs worldwide. AF causes no symptoms for some people. However, others with AF experience uncomfortable symptoms including palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness, and fatigue. AF can severely diminish quality of life for both AF sufferers and their loved ones. Beyond uncomfortable symptoms, AF is also linked to congestive heart failure and stroke, both of which can cause premature death. Medications often fail to control AF, leading patients and healthcare providers to seek other cures, including catheter ablation. To date, catheter ablation has yielded uneven results, but garners much attention in research and innovation in pursuit of a cure for AF. This dissertation examines the historical development and contemporary practices of AF ablation to identify opportunities to improve the innovation system for the disease. First, I trace the history of AF and AF ablation knowledge from the 2nd century B.C.E. through the present. This historical look identifies patterns of knowledge co-development between science, technology, and technique, as well as publication patterns impacting knowledge dissemination. Second, I examine the current practices of AF ablation knowledge translation from the perspective of clinical practitioners to characterize the demand-side of knowledge translation in real-world practice. Demand-side knowledge translation occurs in nested patterns, and requires data, experience, and trust in order to incorporate knowledge into a practice paradigm. Third, I use social network mapping and analysis to represent the full AF ablation knowledge-practice system and identify
opportunities to modify research and innovation practice in AF ablation based on i
measures of centrality and power. Finally, I outline six linked recommendations using raw data capture during ablation procedures and open big data analytics, coupled with multi-stakeholder social networking approaches, to maximize innovation potential in AF ablation research and practice.