UCSF, Samsung to validate and commercialize digital health tools

By Aditi Pai
07:59 am
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Samsung Gear FitSamsung Electronics announced a partnership with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) last week to "accelerate validation and commercialization of promising new sensors, algorithms, and digital health technologies" that will be used in preventive health offerings. The new lab will be called the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab.

Technologies that will be brought to the lab will include Samsung products along with products developed by UCSF students and faculty.

"When we say validate, it can be a variety of things," Dr. Michael Blum, UCSF School of Medicine's associate vice chancellor, told MobiHealthNews. "If it's a brand new sensor we would be doing clinical validation of 'Does it measure and sense what it was intended to?', and 'Does it do it with sufficient accuracy and reliability?' at a very basic level. But then [testing] more sophisticated [features] and saying 'OK so this thing technically works. How does it work in healthcare? Does it bring value to the patient by doing something more quickly, more easily, and more accurately than the way we did it before?'"

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Some technologies that UCSF will help to validate include those Samsung launched at Mobile World Congress this week. One device that might be included is Samsung's wristworn fitness tracking wearable, Gear Fit, which offers users a curved screen for comfortable wearing, is waterproof, includes a heart rate sensor like Samsung's other just launched wristworn offerings, and allows users to get text and call notifications while exercising.

"The other direction is that we will bring devices and concepts and technologies that come out of UCSF investigators, UCSF medical students, and other professional students as well as staff," Blum said. "We'll build that through proof of concept and through a prototype and then we'll work with Samsung to build that out to production scale and distribution."

Samsung will pay UCSF licensing fees for some of the intellectual property that comes out of the partnership.

Many products from UCSF's Center for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI) will be sent to the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab to be reviewed and further developed with Samsung's help. CDHI aims to combine technology, science and medical records to better understand the roots of disease and develop targeted therapies for patients.

"We have several other applications and products that we're working on right now," Blum said. "One that is moving through the pipeline is a collaborative care platform that's called CareWeb, which is a team based communication [tool], that takes elements of the best of concurrent social communication such as Facebook and Twitter, but use them in a healthcare environment so we can improve the team based and collaborative communication that go on in those environments. That has been piloted and is getting ready to be scaled and distributed out to the rest of the country."

Another product out of CDHI, Health eHeart, is a cardiac web-based data collection platform, powered by Azumio, AliveCor and iHealth, that Blum said is scaling around the country in collaboration with the American Heart Assocation.

While Blum could not disclose specific projects that will enter the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab, they will likely be along the same lines as those that have been developed in CDHI in the past.

"Digital health has been moving along slowly and getting some momentum," Blum said. "We think this [partnership] is going to speed up the pace of delivery of really high quality, impactful digital health innovations to the public. And then, as a next step, to help with wellness and disease management — to help people get better, live longer, and live happier.”

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