Former Oracle exec Troy Tazbaz tapped as FDA director of digital health

The Food and Drug Administration tapped former Oracle executive Troy Tazbaz to lead the agency's digital health initiatives.

As the new head of the FDA’s digital health work, Tazbaz’s responsibilities will include "enabling digital therapeutics and technologies that contribute to the ongoing modernization of healthcare in the United States,” according to his LinkedIn account. He will lead the FDA's Digital Health Center of Excellence. 

“As digital health technologies play an increasing and significant role in health care, Troy’s wealth of technology industry leadership and management experience will further support the agency’s vision for digital health and build upon years of progress of the program,” FDA spokesperson Jim McKinney wrote to Fierce Healthcare in an email.

Troy Tazbaz (LinkedIn)
(Troy Tazbaz (LinkedIn))

Tazbaz most recently spent 11 years at Oracle spearheading the tech company’s cloud transformation efforts. He most recently held the role of senior vice president of the Austin, Texas-based company’s industry business unit. Previously, he held the title of vice president of corporate operations and senior director of Oracle cloud data center strategy and planning.

During his tenure at Oracle, Tazbaz was responsible for industry strategy including the assessment of industry-specific regional dynamics, product requirements and market planning. He established the global data center strategy to expand Oracle’s data center investments for the implementation of cloud technology.

The Digital Health Center of Excellence lies within the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health and is responsible for ensuring that healthcare delivery uses technology safely and effectively to advance public health. Tazbaz will oversee the center’s work in technology evaluation, policy development and strategic partnerships.

The FDA’s digital health office was launched in 2020 with the goal of advancing “digital health technology, including mobile health devices, Software as a Medical Device, wearables when used as a medical device and technologies used to study medical products.”

“In his role, Troy will lead the Digital Health Center of Excellence in its next phase, which is focused on continued growth and improvement of building and sustaining capacity for strategic partnerships, innovating regulatory frameworks for digital health and continued harmonization with other regulators. The FDA is thrilled to welcome Troy to the agency,” McKinney wrote.

The center has heard recent criticism that its work has not kept pace with the advancement of technology in the private sector. Part of the differences in speed is due to inherent regulatory differences between the two spaces. While private apps are updated in near real time as developers fix bugs, updates to regulated digital health products require a time-intensive review.

“Consumers really expect for their products to keep pace, and FDA’s modifications framework is really difficult with that,” said Brendan O’Leary, deputy director at the Digital Health Center of Excellence, at the DTx East conference in Boston in September.

The office released an artificial intelligence and machine learning action plan in January 2021 with the goal of advancing the agency’s management of advanced medical software. The action plan was designed to force manufacturers to establish more rigorous evaluation procedures.

O’Leary has filled the role of acting director since February when Bakul Patel left the position for a digital health strategy role at Google. Patel helped design the FDA’s regulatory strategy for AI products before leaving the administration after 13 years.

Other appointees have moved between the two spaces. Robert Califf, the current FDA commissioner, is a former Alphabet senior adviser who has also worked with the tech giant’s spinout, Verily. Former FDA deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D., left the government sector for Verily in 2021. Her role at the life sciences company recently expanded to include both president of product development and chief medical officer.  

Other FDA officials have jumped to the startup world, including Anand Shah, M.D., former deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs who last January was appointed to the board of mental health app developer Big Health.