Tech Tonics: Dr. Brennan Spiegel, Translating Technology into Practice

October 18th, 2015 |
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It seemed like a simple enough idea – evaluating whether the use of virtual reality goggles would reduce the pain experienced by hospitalized patients. Yet, when Brennan Spiegel, a gastroenterologist, clinical trial expert, and digital health pioneer at Cedar Sinai tried to offer it to patients, he struggled to find takers. “No thanks,” he was told, or “Don’t want to get dizzy,” or “Don’t want to be in your experiment.” He needed to ask ten patients before he found someone willing to volunteer – and even that patient wanted to first watch the Republican Presidential Debate before using the goggles. “Could you come back later,” he asked, “maybe tomorrow?”

Far too often, the theory of digital health – the possibility of what technology could enable in healthcare – seems absurdly ahead of the day-to-day reality, which often leads technology developers to feel that providers are hopelessly enmeshed in yesterday’s tools, and providers to feel that technologists have no idea what medicine actually entails.

Spiegel seeks to bridge the gap in digital health. He is a front line physician and clinical investigators who is exploring how to bring digital health technologies into the clinical care and clinical trial setting.

As Brennan has discovered, and eloquently articulated here and here for example and David’s take here, translating technology into practice isn’t easy, and faces a number of pragmatic barriers, as Brennan discusses in this Tech Tonics podcast. Along the way, we’ll also learn what it was like to grow up with Mel Brooks as your best friend’s dad, and what the Bristol Scale measures.


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