The U.S. FDA announces that it is launching the Digital Health Center of Excellence within the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH)—which, officials say, is 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.

“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.,” says FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD. 

“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,” he adds. “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 FDA will continue to build and formalize the coordinating structure and operation of the Digital Health Center of Excellence as part of an effort to modernize digital health policies and regulatory approaches, and provide efficient access to highly specialized expertise, knowledge, and tools to accelerate access to safe and effective digital health technology. The agency is appointing Bakul Patel, who has been leading regulatory and scientific efforts related to digital health devices at the FDA since 2010, as its first director.

“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,” says Jeff Shuren, MD, JD, 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.”

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.