UC San Diego Health Launches New Center to Spur Patient-Centered Technologies

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From tele-monitoring patients with diabetes to using artificial intelligence to prevent sepsis, the newly launched Center for Health Innovation at UC San Diego Health will seek to develop, test and commercialize technologies that make a real, measurable difference in the lives and wellbeing of patients.

“Every U.S. hospital has common challenges to address in continuously improving patient experience, outcomes and safety: this is where our efforts will focus,” said Patty Maysent, CEO, UC San Diego Health. “Basically, we’re taking real-world problems, such as diabetes and hypertension, and using our insights to address these conditions with what will one day become safe patient-centered technologies.”

Similar innovation centers are housed at UCSF, Washington University, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and New York University. The new Center for Health Innovation will be located on the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego. Collaborators will include the UC San Diego Design Lab, Qualcomm Institute and Jacobs School of Engineering.

“What’s unique about our center is that we are partnering with another global institution, Techna Institute, to leverage and integrate best practices in research and patient care,” said David Brenner, MD, vice chancellor, UC San Diego Health Sciences. “This dedicated hub of innovation at UC San Diego Health will benefit our patients and also patients in a variety of community and academic settings.”

The Center for Health Innovation is modeled after the University Health Network’s (UHN) Techna Institute, jointly located within the organization’s hospital sites and at the University of Toronto. In partnership with others, the institute has designed numerous products now used in hospitals and clinics, including advanced digital therapeutics that optimize the care of chronic conditions through algorithm-based decision-making, an image-guided GammaKnife for bed-side treatment and the use of human factors engineering methods to ensure not only the safety of products and services, but to also improved user experience.

“Our Techna Institute has had great success in improving health outcomes, efficiency and both patient and provider experience through various projects that integrated research and technology development within our hospitals,” said Kevin Smith, DrPhil, president and CEO, University Health Network, Canada’s largest academic health sciences center. “We are pleased to work with peer institutions to help them replicate that approach, as shortening the interval between technology development and implementation in the health system accelerates the transformation of health care in a way that better serves patients.”

“Doctors, nurses and medical teams know best where there are existing technology gaps in patient care. Our in-house teams of clinicians and scientists will innovate solutions that lead to things like lower blood pressure with longer term goals, like reduced number of hospitalizations and a longer life,” said Christopher Longhurst, MD, chief information officer, UC San Diego Health. “With our proximity to the health and biotech sector as well as the cross-border region, the number of collaborative opportunities are immense.”

UC San Diego Health and TECHNA Institute first collaborated on CA Notify, a smartphone-based system built on Google-Apple exposure notification technology, to help quell the SARS-CoV-2 surge. It is estimated that 1 in 3 California residents over the age of 18 now uses CA Notify.

“COVID-19 created a crisis where remote monitoring of patients, including video visits, had to become a new standard of care. The lessons learned from this time period will bring new technologies to bear for patients with both chronic and emergent conditions,” said Parag Agnihotri, MD, chief medical officer, Population Health Services, UC San Diego Health.

Initial projects for the new center will focus on refining the virtual visit experience for patients with technologies like wearable sensors that can monitor chronic conditions. The goal is to focus on older adults, high-risk patients with diabetes and hypertension and patients in hard-to-reach geographies.

To learn more about the Center for Health Innovation, visit healthinnovation.ucsd.edu.


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