USC cardiology chief Saxon: ‘People are using their phones for everything except their own health. We aim to change that.’ news

As cardiology chief of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Dr. Leslie Saxon is spearheading a successful mobile health innovation center called the Center for Body Computing. Founded in 2010, the coalition works with engineers, device companies and thought leaders to develop mobile health software and apps.

Saxon’s ultimate goal is to create a single platform that is the "epicenter of wireless health." The CBC has developed working relationships with device companies and innovators including Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) and St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ). She also hosts an annual Body Computing Conference, which brings together cross-disciplinary leaders from medicine, design, gaming and pharmaceuticals.

Sign up to get our free newsletters delivered straight to your inbox

The goal of all this collaboration is a “Facebook for healthcare," where patients, doctors and manufacturers share data in a dynamic online space. With more than 5 billion people wielding mobile devices, Saxon believes it’s time to re-think the way healthcare is consumed. caught up with Saxon to discuss her vision for the future of mHealth.

MassDevice: How does the Center for Body Computing find fresh new ideas to develop?

LS: I always go to people that are doing new things, like someone who has a center for something cool, like a concussion sensor or a bat speed sensor. We troll a lot on the Internet and make cold calls to get members. We help our members imagine their technology and help them understand the market. Sometimes we co-develop ideas. Sometimes CBC develops its own apps through the USC Engineering School. Sometimes we collaborate with inventors. Sometimes inventors/programmers/companies come to us with a fully developed product and just want us to beta-test it. We are also working with gaming companies. We’ve got a lot of big grants in the pipeline that the university hasn’t disclosed yet. It’s important to remember that we’re a non-profit, which limits the kinds of interactions we can have with some partners. 

MassDevice: What’s in the pipeline right now that’s piqued your interest?

LS: I can tell you about my favorite device – right here on the back of my iPhone. It’s an ECG sensor and I use it 100s of times a week. I discovered it on YouTube and contacted the inventor. Now it’s a product being developed by AliveCor. Another great app I helped develop is called MyQuitCoach, which is a smoking cessation app.

MassDevice: What is your long-term agenda for the CBC?

LS: Our aim is to create products and environments that meet patient’s needs and improve productivity. I want to get a health agenda on the board. A lot of people are using their phones as almost "life channels" right now. People are using their phones for everything except their own health. We aim to change that.

MassDevice: What’s behind your shift from exclusively clinical work to the world of mHealth?*

Leslie Saxon: I really wanted to reach a greater group of patients than I had been in my cardiology practice. I started exploring wireless technology and realized the potential in medical care. This is a really fascinating field, with a lot of great people in it. In addition, wireless companies are some of the most successful and profitable in the world. This is where it seemed there was a lot of potential to make connections across a large group of people.

MassDevice: Tell us about your work with medical device manufacturers.

LS: I’ve worked with all 3 in the cardiology space — Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and St. Jude — I’ve consulted in a number of ways. I’ve helped with clinical research projects to organize the clinical trials, and I’ve helped with pre-trial device development. I’m working right now with Boston Scientific. I’m on their medical advisory board and I’m chair of the Altitude project. 

MassDevice: What was your reaction to the recall of St. Jude’s Riata defibrillator lead?

LS: I think in general, these companies take their work and safety very seriously. These devices are very sophisticated and in general highly reliable. They’re asked to do a lot, and because of their increased complexity, the advisories being issued about their overall performance rates are super high. 

MassDevice: What is the goal with your new website, Every Heart Beat?

LS: We launched the site to announce our initiative, but right now it’s just a landing page. We’re hoping to create a digital platform on which people can tell their own health story. We’re specifically talking about heart rate at this point. For now, it’s not about a personalized health record and not about therapeutic relationships — it’s about people putting their own data on a platform and then we’ll be able to tell individual stories and larger trends. A lot of what we’re building is already out there with patient networking sites. That’s why we’re focusing on mobile devices. The mobile device is key, because millions of people have the power to enter data, even without great healthcare access or wireless access. 

Mass Device: Where have you seen the most success in the mobile health space?

LS: One space we’ve seen a great integration of mobile devices and health is in sports — how to take biometric data and enhance a workout experience for athletes. Currently, we’re running some clinical trials and space studies with the USC football team. We’re also working with professional teams using wireless monitors. Of concern to me is understanding which players might be at risk for advanced cardiac disease because that is common in some athletes. 

MassDevice: It makes sense that athletes or patients with acute diseases want to volunteer their health information and join a network. Do you really think that the general population will be willing to opt in to this kind of online medical network?

LS: I think people want to volunteer their data because people are inherently curious. We’ve certainly seen this in the popularity of athletic applications – there is a huge population of people tracking their athletic performance. I think that if people felt they could learn something about their health or be actively preventing disease, then they would opt into a social network.

*Correction, July 17, 2012: Due to an editor’s error, this article originally stated that Saxon no longer sees patients. Return to the corrected sentence.

RSS From Medical Design & Outsourcing

  • MIT’s MultiFab presents a stark challenge to incumbent 3D Printer manufacturers’ hardware, software, and business Models
    MIT’s Computational Fabrication Group recently announced the MultiFab, a low-cost 3D printer that can combine up to 10 different resins in one part and also includes a 3D scanning system to identify and fix errors during production. According to Lux Research, these capabilities are rare in commercial 3D printers today due to the manufacturers’ need […]
  • AVX releases Accu-P MP medical grade film chip capacitors for medical devices
    AVX Corporation, a leading manufacturer of passive components and interconnect solutions, has released a new series of thin film chip capacitors specifically designed to meet the demanding performance specifications for implantable medical devices. Delivering extremely tight capacitive tolerances, exceptionally repeatable performance, and remarkably low ESR and high Q at high frequencies—including VHF, UHF, and RF […]
  • RIVANNA commences manufacturing of its Accuro device
    Rivanna Medical announced that it has begun manufacturing its FDA-cleared Accuro device, a handheld and untethered smart-phone-sized device that is designed to guide spinal anesthesia with automated 3D navigation technology in addition to ultrasound imaging of abdominal, musculoskeletal, cardiac and peripheral vascular anatomies. The product will be launched at the ASA annual meeting in San […]
  • FDA seeks public input on Quality Metrics guidance
    by Oliver Wolf, Senior Product Manager, MasterControl In line with the general shift towards risk-driven approaches in the quality management world, FDA is now taking steps towards applying those same principles to its own auditing schedule. At the end of July, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) and the Center for Biologics Evaluation […]
  • First ‘Ear Wear’ for Active Adults Debuts with MDHearingAid FIT
    If you’ve burned out your ears with earbuds, headphones or decades of other audio abuse but aren’t ready for your grandmother’s hearing aids, not to worry! The new MDHearingAid FIT gets you back in the game with a tiny, FDA-registered, one-size-fits-most solution that doesn’t block your ear canal like old-fashioned in-the-ear hearing aids. The FIT feels […]
  • CardioGenics enters into manufacturing agreement with Ontario-based Plasticap
    CardioGenics Holdings, developer for the In-Vitro-Diagnostics (“IVD”) testing market, announced that it has entered into a manufacturing agreement with Plasticap of Ontario, Canada, pursuant to which Plasticap will manufacture CardioGenics’ proprietary self-metering cartridges for its QL Care analyzer. The term of the agreement is three years and the purchase price for each cartridge shall be […]
  • MTD Micro Molding releases micro materials menu
    MTD Micro Molding, a long-time leader in micro-injection molding, has released an updated “Materials Menu” of materials that can be successfully micromolded to help guide engineers at medical device companies. Material selection is a crucial step in product manufacturability. The correct material drives tolerance, dimension, strength, usabality, speed-to-market, design, critical features, and cost. Through MTD’s […]
  • MedTech Chat: Elastic technology for drug delivery
    Dr. Zhen Gu and Dr. Yong Zhu from North Carolina State University are both co-senior authors of a research paper describing their recent work. Dr. Gu, Dr. Zhu and other researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a drug delivery technology that consists of an […]
  • B. Braun’s OEM Division offers large bore normally closed low-pressure check valves
    Infusion therapy and pain management device manufacturer B. Braun said today it is offering normally closed large-bore low-pressure check valves through its valve-focused contract manufacturing OEM division. The valves, offered by Bethlehem, Pa.-based B. Braun, are designed for the intermittent injection of fluids during medical treatment and open automatically when pressure is applied. The newly […]
  • Continuous 225W with natural convection for medical type BF power supply
    Powerbox, a European power supply company, introduces new Medline 225 series ac and dc single output open frame converters for medical type BF applications. The new OFM225 with its 3 x 5 in. footprint and 1.5 in. height is designed for a continuous output power of 225W with natural convection and 40°C ambient temperature, increasing to […]
  • Using data science to achieve ultra-low dose CT image reconstruction
    Prof. Jeff Fessler and Prof. Yong Long, Ph.D. of the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University (UM-SJTU) Joint Institute are collaborating on a project to develop a dramatically improved approach to low-dose X-ray CT image formation by extracting and using information from a big-data corpus of regular dose X-Ray Computed Tomography (CT) images. The research is […]

Leave a Reply