Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 21, 2014

Samsung, University of California Set Up Digital Health Innovation Lab

Samsung Electronics has partnered with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) to set up a Digital Health Innovation Lab in San Francisco’s Mission Bay.

The new lab will be a site for developing and undertaking trials on mobile health technology. The lab was described in a statement as a “first-of-its-kind test bed where entrepreneurs and innovators will be able to validate their technologies and accelerate the adoption of new preventive health solutions.” Another goal is to commercialize sensors, algorithms and digital health technology used in areas like preventive health.

Financial details on the partnership were not released to the media.

Meanwhile, the lab comes as mobile health is changing with new wearable technology, health sensors and cloud-based analytics, the organizations said. The lab will provide the needed validation of the technology before it is offered to the consumer. “There are many new sensors and devices coming onto the market for consumers, but without medical validation, most of these will have limited impacts on health. Meanwhile, many practitioners also have creative ideas for new devices, but they lack the technological knowledge to fully develop them,” Michael Blum, UCSF’s associate vice chancellor for Informatics, said in a statement. “This partnership will bring together these two very different worlds of expertise with the resources needed to accelerate new and disruptive technologies that will truly change lives.” Blum also told The Wall Street Journal that the lab will concentrate on consumer technology which provides users the information they need to keep them well.

Samsung has a potentially strong role, given its presence in the smartphone market, because many devices can “exchange data with smartphones, where specialized apps can help interpret the information and in some cases transmit it to the Web,” The Journal reported.

“Harnessing new preventative health technologies to help people live healthier lives is the next great opportunity of our generation,” Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics, added in a recent statement. “We invite the world's innovators and entrepreneurs to join us to validate their new sensors, analytics, and preventive health solutions in a world-class setting. Samsung's global Digital Health Innovation Lab initiative is aimed at enabling great new ideas to be tested, validated, and commercialized more quickly, thereby making lives better for millions of people around the world.”

In addition, the university’s Center for Digital Health Innovation is charged with developing new technologies, apps and systems that, with social media, lead to large data sets. Also, it will be the site to incubate new digital technology, apps, sensors and systems, and get them commercialized through collaborations with start-ups, as well as industry and capital partners. Overall, the Mission Bay campus has more than 50 bioscience startups, nine pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and 10 venture capital firms.

A key goal of the new Samsung-UCSF lab is to lower the incidence of preventable illnesses. There are diverse areas the new lab may address on this count, but one pressing need is for U.S. hospitals to analyze data in an effort to reduce and prevent hospital-acquired infections, as well as cut down on readmissions. They could face fines, otherwise, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), according to new regulations.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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