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Lifespan and Brown's Medical School Launch Center for Digital Health

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   July 30, 2020

Focus of the facility will be to scale digital treatment innovations and focus on vulnerable populations.

From the smallest state in the Union comes a big boost to help digital health flourish. The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University and the five-hospital health system Lifespan have joined forces in Rhode Island to launch the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health.

The new facility, "will serve as an incubator for practical research, enabling the development of novel digital health science and tools focused on solving the real needs of patients, providers, and populations," according to a news release.

Digital tools are helping to change the way healthcare is delivered. They play an increasing role in chronic disease management, remote monitoring, and even in collecting data about exercise, heart rate, and sleep through wearable consumer devices.

"The development and widespread use of these technologies is limited by a lack of efficacy data, lack of implementation guidance, and, most of all, by lack of systematic collaboration among researchers, clinicians, patients, and other stakeholders," said Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH, who serves as director of the center.

Development of the Center resulted from a decade of collaboration between the medical school and the health system.  

"We will help people from across our hospital and university campuses to go from ‘idea-to-impact’ quickly, efficiently, and ethically," Ranney said. The team will focus on quickly scaling digital treatment modalities to have a broad impact on patients and populations.

"To achieve these functions, the Center will intersect with leading entrepreneurs, academicians, and clinicians across all Brown schools, the Lifespan health system, and the greater Providence area, as well as with national and international business and research leaders in the field," according to the announcement.

Before the Center was established, an earlier initiative, the Emergency Digital Health Innovation program, "developed and studied digital applications in the field of emergency medicine, including text message programs to reduce injury among adolescents, machine learning-based mobile applications to provide support to adults with behavioral health diagnoses, and collaborations on novel social media monitoring programs," according to the release. The new Center will expand this initiative to "encompass all aspects of health, with a focus on equity and vulnerable populations."

"This outstanding partnership will enable us to further develop and apply digital health in the ever-changing practice of medicine," said Timothy J. Babineau, MD, president and CEO of Lifespan.

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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