Innovation

Digital healthcare could make every Dr.'s appointment a house call

Heart surgeon says tomorrow's healthcare system will be driven by internet-connected phones and body-worn/implantable sensors, and allow people to access experts, information, and diagnoses from anywhere in the world.

Leslie Saxon, Executive Director, USC Center for Body Computing spoke to TechRepublic's Teena Maddox at SXSW about the future of digital healthcare.

The following is a transcript of the edited interview.

"I run a digital healthcare and innovation center at the University of Southern California," in Los Angeles, Saxon told Maddox. "I'm an interventional cardiologist, and I became interested in digital healthcare when the defibrillators I implanted became networked. Our center builds what we call the new healthcare; healthcare delivered to anyone, anytime, all over the world, of the highest quality. Our vision of the future is that most people in the world will be receiving their healthcare this way, and not in brick-and-mortar buildings.

This form of healthcare is enabled by internet-connected phones, body-worn and implantable sensors, and allows people to access experts, information and diagnoses in the way they access things digitally, like media or entertainment.

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The pros are incredible: an affordable system which delivers the highest quality healthcare to everyone, not a lesser version of healthcare to all. It can deliver very personalized information to people, specific to them, throughout the course of their health journey. It provides context to healthcare events, so that you're diagnosed where you are, and it's on demand. It's a form of healthcare that gives consumers or patients unbelievable control and engagement in their care.

The Achilles' heel of it all, and the thing that we talked about this year at South By, is cyber security. Nobody wants their body hacked, right? How do we create protections around this data and around acquiring the data, so it's not hacked? The conclusions reached: there are always going to be threats of cyber intrusion, but we have to build very resilient systems, systems that can survive a hack, and still isolate key information, like identity, and keep personal data, which could be harmful safe, or prevent someone from altering someone's medical data. You don't want anyone changing your blood type, which could be potentially very dangerous.

So how do we safeguard and build a whole culture around this? Digital healthcare is really about shared responsibility, and so is cyber security. If patients have unprecedented control over their health, if they can access their healthcare information on demand, they also have responsibility to make sure their software is updated, and that their devices aren't getting in the wrong hands, the same is true for manufacturers, a drug company, or hospital with access to that data.

I'm really excited about the future of digital health and its ability to deliver healthcare to everyone. These cyber challenges have to be recognized early, and we have to build robust systems to support this vision of healthcare."

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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