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Moving Research to Reality

October 2019 | Written by Lisa Marceau, MPH, PMP

Technology is becoming ever more integrated in the way we live, work, and interface with our personal health care.

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, wearable technology, and mobile applications are becoming ubiquitous and are changing the ways in which we interact with the health care system. This evolution relies on—and is informed by—technologies that have been developed through innovation incubators, often supported by venture capital. The National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program exists in this space to encourage the development of ‘the next great health-based invention’ that is grounded in strong scientific evidence. Over the past three decades, our Digital Research Solutions team has been committed to this mission, having received over 130 successful grants, collaborating with a range of clinical and technology experts.

Science bookends our product development process by incorporating multiple stages of research. We start by creating opportunities to move scientific knowledge into a marketable product. The important first step is to understand the state of current evidence, and from there we conceptualize products to address gaps which exist in the diagnosis and treatment continuum. Our collaborative environment encourages the incubation of ideas and our strong relationships provides a broad clinical and technological footprint on which to build scientifically rigorous and state of the art products.

Freedom to Explore

With the freedom to explore, innovative ideas evolve into interventions or products which have broad potential including, for example, impacting clinical guidelines, improving the in-clinic encounter, personalizing health care, and addressing preventive health measures.

Each product concept is evaluated for its applicability to the target audience and undergoes rigorous qualitative research to identify the audience needs, likes, and dislikes before a product is developed. After developing a prototype, we assess feasibility to identify gaps or missed opportunities. As part of the second phase of development, the complete program is evaluated in a randomized controlled trial to make sure the product meets the user’s needs and fills an unmet need in the current field of knowledge. This process results in successful, high quality, evidence-based products supported by peer reviewed publications and presentations and strategic dissemination plans.

The rapid pace of technological development will continue to drive global change in health care as well as the meaning of personalized, precision medicine. We are uniquely positioned to be a leader in this dynamic evolution with our depth of scientific expertise, breadth of knowledge in digital strategies, and decades of commitment to dissemination and implementation approaches.

AUTHOR(S)
Lisa Marceau, MPH, PMP
Staff Vice President, Digital Research Solutions
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