Stanford Medicine launches Center for Digital Health

By Jonah Comstock
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The Stanford University School of Medicine has launched a Center for Digital Health which will help support greater efficacy data for digital health tools by providing Silicon Valley companies with opportunities to develop, test, and implement new tools in collaboration with the university. 

“With our biomedical expertise and location in Silicon Valley, Stanford Medicine is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the field of digital health,” Dr. Lloyd Minor, dean of the School of Medicine, said in a statement. “The new Center for Digital Health fits well within the framework of the biomedical revolution in precision health at Stanford by using the most advanced digital technologies and tools to develop care that is tailored to individual patients.”

Dr. Sumbul Desai, clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford, will serve as executive director of the new center. She said in a statement that the center grew out of numerous unsolicited approaches from health tech companies due to Stanford's location and reputation (the University has been involved in a number of digital health projects, including working with Apple as an early adopter of HealthKit and ResearchKit).

“We wanted to leverage that interest and generate more opportunities for the faculty by providing the infrastructure and resources needed to encourage these relationships,” Desai said. “We can help connect interested faculty with industry, or vice versa. Say, for example, there’s a faculty member interested in pulmonary digital health research. We may know a company with the same interest. We can help connect them.”

Dr. Mintu Turakhia, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and senior director of research and innovation at the Center, said that in addition to helping out companies and the university, the Center will help advance the state of digital health by encouraging the generation of more robust efficacy data.

“There are hundreds upon hundreds of digital health startups now, and it is very difficult for patients, doctors, hospitals, insurers, regulators and investors to know which solutions will work and which will stick,” he said. “High-quality evidence is needed to make informed decisions. We generate this evidence quickly and cheaply, targeting the real-world outcomes that matter for all of these stakeholders.”

To kick off the launch, Stanford is currently accepting proposals for programs seeking to use the Apple Watch in a healthcare context. Stanford is offering 1,000 Apple Watches and $10,000 in grant funding to the winning proposal.