Brennan Spiegel, Cedars-Sinai director of health services research, sees beyond the gee-whiz gadgetry of digital health.
Brennan Spiegel, MD, moved seamlessly from his role as a gastroenterologist to digital health maven by inventing a wearable device that helps clinicians answer a simple question—when can a patient start eating after surgery? us was born the AbStats monitor, a small device that listens to the gurgles of the intestines to determine if they’ve recovered enough after surgery to allow the patient to eat. at success has inspired Spiegel to look at other digital device approaches, most notably virtual reality and augmented reality, which he believes can help patients cope with pain without the addictive risk of opioids.
Spiegel doesn’t just see gee-whiz gadgetry in digital health. “It’s a platform to serve our patients,” he says. “Health IT is less of a computer science or engineering science—it’s more of a social science and a behavioral science. Technology development has become rather trivial—the hard part now is, how do we implement these technologies on the front lines of care?”
On digital health’s value
Digital technology allows us to go beyond the four walls of the hospital. Patients spend most of their lives far away from the hospital—if we’re really going to engage them, we have to reach out to where they are.
In my role, I report to the senior vice president of clinical transformation and also the dean of our faculty. That recognizes that my role spans both research and operations. Our research needs to support the learning health system cycle—research is great but what we discover should not just stop there; it should be inserted back into the health system to move the needle.
On value-based care
e incentives of payment reform are being aligned so we get paid for doing high-quality care, and digital health and informatics are right at the heart of that.
On hype surrounding AR/VR
Much depends on the use case; on the Gartner hype cycle it’s moving back up the plateau of productivity—it seems like it’s ready to be implemented. Our recent research suggests VR may be more e ective at reducing patient pain than opioids, with low risk of addictive side e ects. e question is, how do we get it into the hands of patients and into the clinic?
We’ve also recently published research that there’s not yet su cient evidence that wearable biosensors improve the value of healthcare—that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future.