Even as a seasoned digital health researcher with 15 years experience at Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare, I still begin each innovation project with two simple questions–what clinical problems exist and does my idea address one of those problems in a unique and effective way. As you will see from our collection of tutorials and do-it-yourself resources on this site, repeatedly asking the right questions at the right time is integral to paving your way as an innovator at an academic medical center and reality-checking that the idea, product or service you’ve derived actually makes sense in the clinical setting of your choosing. I try to seek answers to most of the below questions before committing maximum effort to a project.
On the practical and clinical side
- Who might be funding all of the work?
- Who will support my efforts to experiment and implement? Do I have stakeholder buy-in?
- Have I done a literature review? Have I asked colleagues at Mass General about other solutions?
On the digital front
- Does it involve data? If so, what data? From where? How frequently does the data arrive and how frequently does it need to be fetched? Is this a data service or a data dump?
- Is a commercial solution already available?
- Does it involve decision support? If so, artificial intelligence, or simple Boolean logic? Discrete terminology searches or natural language processing?
- Does it involve EPIC (or another electronic medical record system)?
- Does it involve an external application development? Am I developing this myself?
- Who are all the digital health entities I need to be working with? Partners eCare? External vendors? Internal developers? Partners HealthCare Information Systems?
Once I am satisfied with the answers to these questions, and I firmly believe that this project has the potential to improve clinical operations and is sensible to pursue, my nascent-stage process is as follows:
The blogs featured on our Resources page will go into more depth about how to successfully manage these early efforts and provide a roadmap for scaling clinically beneficial digital health innovations.