Digital health plus evidence plus humility equals digital medicine

27 May 2019

After breathlessly ascending the peak of inflated expectations, and careening down through the trough of despair, digital health seems poised to re-emerge, battered but not beaten, in the form of digital medicine: digital health plus evidence plus humility.

That was my key take-away from a fascinating and constructive meeting, the Harvard Digital Medicine Symposium, I was privileged to participate in earlier this week at Harvard Business School, organized by Business School Professor Ariel Stern, Brigham & Women’s physician Will Gordon, and Elektra Labs CEO Andy Coravos.

As Coravos discussed on her recent Tech Tonics podcast (here), and explains (along with co-authors) in more detail in a fantastic primer, recently published here, digital medicine:

“describes a field, concerned with the use of technologies as tools for measurement, and intervention in the service of human health…. As a discipline, digital medicine encapsulates both broad professional expertise and responsibilities concerning the use of these digital tools. Digital medicine focuses on evidence generation to support the use of these technologies.”

In his welcoming remarks, Gordon observed that in our daily lives, digital has arrived; he described, tongue in cheek, the “smartphone sign” utilized by some doctors when deciding if a patient is healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital: if they’re using their phone, they’re healthy enough to leave. (There’s even a publication on this – here.) The challenge addressed by the symposium was how to bring the digital and data fluency we see in the rest of our lives, along with integration so deep we don’t even think about it, to healthcare – not as precious innovation projects but as a foundational enabling technology that advances the goals of patients, physicians and other caregivers, and developers of therapeutics.

Read more here

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