Do-It-Yourself ToolkitsGetting StartedMass General Innovation

Your Digital Health Innovation Journey: Getting Started

By August 14, 2019 August 31st, 2020 No Comments

Even as a seasoned digital health researcher with 15 years experience at Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Brigham, 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?  Mass General Brigham eCare?  External vendors?  Internal developers?  Mass General Brigham 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:

1

Create a proof-of-concept and test it out

2

Conduct an alpha-pilot study

with limited roll-out to see if the solution is adopted
3

Focus on some more granular details

Workflow/user-interaction optimization
Algorithmic quality
Human factors engineering

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.

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Author Details
Dr. Adrian Zai is the Research Director at Partners eCare, and the Associate Director of Digital Health Clinical Trials at the Center for Innovation in Digital Healthcare at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He explores how Partners can work with industry to pilot new research and innovation projects with the goal to achieve rapid adoption into clinical care.
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Dr. Adrian Zai is the Research Director at Partners eCare, and the Associate Director of Digital Health Clinical Trials at the Center for Innovation in Digital Healthcare at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He explores how Partners can work with industry to pilot new research and innovation projects with the goal to achieve rapid adoption into clinical care.
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