Scripps' Steven Steinhubl: Success in mHealth requires 'hard evidence'

Tools

While the growing use of mobile technology in clinical settings represents a promising future for the healthcare industry, according to Steven Steinhubl, M.D.--director of digital medicine for the La Jolla, Calif.-based Scripps Translational Science Institute--its integration, he says, is a process that cannot be rushed.

"The whole medical field is full of examples of therapeutic interventions that everyone just assumes make so much sense that they have to be good for you, but a lot [of] times, those interventions turn out to be dangerous," Steinhubl (pictured) says." We [at Scripps] feel it's really important to have the highest potential level data available to show how different technologies fit in."

In an exclusive interview with FierceMobileHealthcare, Steinhubl talks about how he and his colleagues are rigorously studying emerging technologies to find "hard evidence" that such tools can have a real impact on patient care. He also discusses how his long and winding career path prepared him for his role at STSI, a National Institutes of Health supported consortium led by San Diego-based Scripps Health.

FMHC: Talk about the recently launched Wired for Health trial; what do you expect to come of that?

Steinhubl: The project is geared specifically toward employees of Scripps Health. It's looking at individuals who are at higher risk or high need of healthcare utilization for either chronic illnesses or intermittent, acute problems, and their use of specific mobile tools. There are three specific focuses: diabetes, hypertension and people with palpitations or dysrhythmias.

For diabetes population, use of the iBGStar wireless glucose monitor is being studied. For hypertension, the Withings wireless blood pressure cuff is being studied, and for people with palpitations or dysrhythmias, we're examining the AliveCor EKG monitor.

What we want to do is empower patients as much as they'd like to be empowered with their own information so that they can act on that; that's our long-term goal. These studies are just the first look at that.

It goes without saying, however, that for all of this to eventually really work, what I call the perverse financial incentives that exist right now in the healthcare system have to change.