Steven Steinhubl, M.D., has been named director of the Digital Medicine program at Scripps Health, where he will lead the scientific evaluation of cutting edge mobile health devices and apps through the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI).
His work will help to address a key challenge facing the nascent mobile health industry – providing the rigorous clinical validation that is needed for health care providers and insurers to embrace new mHealth technologies.
“What we are striving to do at STSI is completely re-engineer health care in a way that empowers patients,” Dr. Steinhubl said. “There is incredible opportunity to use mHealth technology to improve medical outcomes, boost the quality of patients’ lives and create savings within the health care system.”
STSI is a National Institutes of Health-sponsored consortium led by Scripps Health in collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute and several other scientific partners.
STSI Director Eric Topol, M.D., said Dr. Steinhubl’s experience working as a cardiologist, a clinical researcher and a pharmaceutical company executive is a valuable asset that provides the insight of both scientist and technology developer.
“Throughout Dr. Steinhubl’s distinguished career, across the board in academics and the life science industry, he has displayed innovative and pioneering work, along with an ability to find synergy among different technologies. Those are among the many reasons we recruited him,” Dr. Topol said.
Shaping the future of medicine
Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder said the addition of Dr. Steinhubl to the health system’s team reflects Scripps’ leadership role in shaping the future of medicine. “We are committed to providing the highest quality, cutting-edge care to our patients,” he said.
In his new position, Dr. Steinhubl will oversee the design and execution of mHealth technology clinical trials at STSI. That effort received a major boost last fall when the Qualcomm Foundation awarded a $3.75 million grant to Scripps Health to support the development of breakthrough digital technologies.
“Right now there is a lot of excitement surrounding mobile technology, but not a single mHealth app has been rigorously studied,” Dr. Steinhubl said. “Our challenge is discriminating the hype from what will actually help patients and benefit the health care system.”
Synergies of mobile health
Perhaps the greatest potential lies in the combination of wireless devices, apps and social networks in ways that will deliver a higher level of individualized care.
For example, a person with asthma might benefit most from using a smartphone app to evaluate ambient air quality along with a wireless sensor attached to an inhaler for tracking medication use and another app for measuring lung function through the device’s microphone.
“What we are really after is finding ways to use the vast banks of patient data generated by an assortment of these new technologies to ultimately predict health problems before they happen,” Dr. Topol said.
Before joining Scripps Health, Dr. Steinhubl was director of cardiovascular wellness and a clinician-scientist at the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania following a two-year stint as a global medical vice president for the Medicines Company, where he oversaw development of anti-clotting medications. He also previously worked as an interventional cardiologist at several academic and military hospitals, and he served in the Air Force from 1988 to 2002.
Dr. Steinhubl received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University in 1981, a master’s degree in physiology from Georgetown University in 1984 and a medical degree from St Louis University in 1988.