A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The Future of Home-Based Health Tech


Medical professionals and technologists explore the challenges and opportunities that change presents.

From telehealth visits to home testing kits, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an increase in home-based health care interventions that many experts believe is just the tip of an iceberg. McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2025, a quarter of Medicare fee-for-service spending will have shifted from traditional facilities to home-based options.

On February 17 and 18, Brown University hosted a workshop to explore the technological challenges and opportunities presented by this massive shift to home-based care. The event, “Home Health Technologies in 2032,” gathered more than 90 physicians, biomedical engineers, technologists, social scientists, and others for virtual meetings.

Kimani Toussaint, PhD, a professor and senior associate dean in Brown’s School of Engineering and a chair of the event’s organizing committee, says the goal was to bring medical experts together with technologists to help plot the course of home health care over the next decade.

“We need to think about what kinds of technologies are needed most—whether for diagnostics or therapeutics or some combination of the two—and how these technologies could interface with the existing health care infrastructure,” Toussaint says. “At the same time, it’s critical that we start thinking right from the very beginning about how to make these technologies affordable and accessible to everyone, so that we’re not perpetuating existing disparities or creating new ones. The idea is to develop a roadmap for how these technological changes will unfold over the next 10 years.”

The workshop’s organizing committee included Toussaint along with Brown engineering faculty Anita Shukla, PhD, and Angus Kingon, PhD; Megan Ranney RES’08 F’10 MPH’10, MD, a professor of emergency medicine; and Edith Mathiowitz, PhD, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. The event was supported by the National Science Foundation, the School of Engineering, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health, which Ranney directs.

In addition to presentations from experts in the field, the workshop placed participants into small groups where clinicians and technologists could exchange ideas. Clinicians presented scenarios in which home health technologies might be brought to bear, while engineers and technologists discussed what tools might be developed to address those scenarios. Discussion groups covered several key areas of health care delivery including emergency medicine, primary care, cardiovascular monitoring, and maternal health.

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