The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is launching the Digital Health Center of Excellence within the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). It touted as an important step in furthering the agency’s overarching dedication to the advancement of digital health technology, including mobile health devices, Software as a Medical Device (SaMD), wearables when used as a medical device, and technologies used to study medical products.
The agency is appointing Bakul Patel as the first director. Bakul Patel has been leading regulatory and scientific efforts related to digital health devices at the FDA since 2010.
Why does it matter?
The Digital Health Center of Excellence is primarily focused on helping both internal and external stakeholders achieve their goals of getting high-quality digital health technologies to patients by providing technological advice, coordinating and supporting work being done across the FDA, advancing best practices, and reimagining digital health device oversight. Along those lines, the Digital Health Center of Excellence is creating a network of digital health experts and engaging in Collaborative Communities to share knowledge and experience concerning digital health issues and priorities with FDA staff. An integral part of the launch includes the activities that will be provided to complement advances in digital health technology — such as launching strategic initiatives that advance digital health technologies, facilitating synergies in regulatory science research in digital health, and facilitating and building strategic partnerships.
The Digital Health Center of Excellence is committed to strategically advancing science and evidence for digital health technologies within the framework of the FDA’s regulatory and oversight role. While there are many aspects of the Digital Health Center of Excellence that are still under development, ultimately the goal is to empower digital health stakeholders to advance health care by fostering responsible and high-quality digital health innovation.
On the record
“Establishing the Digital Health Center of Excellence is part of the FDA’s work to ensure that the most cutting-edge digital health technologies are rapidly developed and reviewed in the U.S.,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “Today’s announcement marks the next stage in applying a comprehensive approach to digital health technology to realize its full potential to empower consumers to make better-informed decisions about their own health and provide new options for facilitating prevention, early diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, and management of chronic conditions outside of traditional care settings. The Digital Health Center of Excellence will provide centralized expertise and serve as a resource for digital health technologies and policy for digital health innovators, the public, and FDA staff.”
“The establishment of the Digital Health Center of Excellence is part of the planned evolution of the FDA’s digital health program to amplify the digital health work that is already being done and building upon years of work at the agency,” added Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of CDRH. “In the last several years, we have established partnerships internally and externally to coordinate digital health activities and to promote the consistency of regulatory policy while continuing to innovate in our regulatory approaches.”
It is important to note that this is not the first time the FDA is looking at digital health technologies.
Previously, the agency launched the Digital Health Software Precertification Program, a regulatory framework made to better reflect the software development and refinement process.
With the Digital Health Center of Excellence, the FDA hopes to make things easier for the entire ecosystem by providing efficient access to highly specialized expertise, knowledge, and tools to accelerate access to safe and effective digital health technology.