The SXSW Interactive Featured Session Feature: Leslie Saxon of the Keck Center for Body Computing at USC

Written by Hugh Forrest | February 14, 2014

Dr Leslie Saxon talks about body computing at SXSW 2014

Featured Sessions at the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival showcase some of the world’s most innovative thinkers. Today’s installment of the Featured Session Feature focuses on Leslie Saxon of USC Keck School of Medicine. At SXSW, attend her session “Body Computing: The Future of Networked Humans” session on Saturday, March 8 at 9:30 am.

There are many doctors in the world, but only one Leslie Saxon. Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine and Professor of Clinical Medicine at USC, Dr. Saxon is a decorated physician and researcher who founded the Center for Body Computing, an innovation think tank dedicated to “wireless health.”

Before being recruited as the Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at USC, Dr. Saxon served as the director of Keck’s electrophysiology laboratory and implantable device services at UCSF. Her current department specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias in patients with congestive heart failure. As a professor and medical researcher, Dr. Saxon has over 75 peer-reviewed publications to her name, and is a member of many organizations, including the American College of Cardiology, the Heart Rhythm Society, The American Heart Association, and the Heart Failure Society of America. In 2002, she co-chaired the first Heart Rhythm Society Conference in Cardiac Resynchronization, and in 2007, she hosted the First Annual USC Body Computing Conference dedicated to the nascent wireless physiologic monitoring industry.

Saxon’s fascination with wireless monitoring comes from her own experience as a physician and researcher. “It’s almost obscene to think about how information is everywhere now and shared over the most trivial things, yet patients can’t even get the data from an implanted device they have in their body,” explains Saxon. “After 20 years, I finally understand that just telling the patient what to do in a paternalistic way doesn’t result in good outcomes. Patients have to partner with you.”

Saxon founded the USC Keck’s Center for Body Computer (CBC) in order to create the digital tools and apps needed to facilitate health monitoring and to open up healthy, interactive communication between doctors and patients outside of hospitals and clinics. Dr. Saxon is extremely forward-thinking when it comes to the future of patient care, and is willing to try just about anything to build the right tools. She works with the school’s engineering, business, film, and athletic departments to develop the CBC’s wireless solutions.

The CBC creates smartphone apps and wireless sensor systems that allow patients to access their own personalized medical data in real time. In 2013, Saxon worked with Boston Scientific to develop a programmer tablet that communicates with pacemakers and gives patients suggestions on how to adjust their medications. “The patient and doctor don’t have to go anywhere so it saves millions of dollars, but most importantly it completely changes the game on patient safety and comfort level,” Saxon explains of the device. “It’s like having an office visit every day and a complete physical every week.”

Saxon also developed an iPhone device and app called AliveCor that allows doctors to remotely take electrocardiograms of their patients. AliveCor is the first device of its kind; it snaps onto smartphones and wirelessly communicates with them, allowing for instantaneous diagnosis from a physician “on the other side of the world.” More recently, Saxon has partnered with BMW to develop a heart-rate sensor within steering wheels that will check drivers’ vitals whenever they key the ignition. The system would monitor a driver’s biometrics and react accordingly to adjust the temperature and play specific songs in order to lower stress and reduce anxiety.

Saxon is a true pioneer in the field of digital biometrics, and the Center for Body Computing is at the forefront of an exciting new industry that could revolutionize health care.

Register now to be part of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival and to attend the “Body Computing: The Future of Networked Humans” session on Saturday, March 8. For the full rundown of all sessions and evening events at the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival, visit the day-by-day schedule. Also, learn more about the best of the best programming for the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival by visiting the new Recommendations page.