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Monitoring the Body's Functions, and Getting the Information to the Patient

Aired March 24, 2013 - 14:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: They are innovators, game changers, people pushing themselves, moving us all forward. They're the next scientists, musicians, poets. The next makers, dreamers, teachers and geniuses. They are THE NEXT LIST.

DR. LESLIE SAXON, CHIEF CARDIOLOGIST AT USC'S KECK SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND FOUNDER OF THE CENTER FOR BODY COMPUTING: I'm continually interested and fascinated by how much athletes, patients, everybody wants their own data. Because they want to learn and be better and have better outcome.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: You can get this information all the time, realtime. What do you think about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing, the technology, where it's taking us.

GUPTA: The technology around me measures the body's most basic functions like pulse rate, respiration, blood pressure. That's valuable information, but Dr. Leslie Saxon wants all of us to have access to as easily as we have access to our e-mail.


SAXON: The kind of first principle of digital health is access to your own data. I imagine that anybody in the public who wants to check on their health status that this will be standard of checking yourself, like you check your sports scores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's somewhat fearless in terms of being an advocate for patients.

SAXON: In your case, we're treating blood pressure or we're treating arrhythmia.


GUPTA: Dr. Saxon is the chief cardiologist at USC's Keck School of Medicine. She's working to make health care more convenient, more personal, and available in realtime.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be a hospital you carry in your pocket.

GUPTA (voice-over): She's doing this by collaborating with business, engineering, medical and film students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is the definition of a vanguard to vanguard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is a little bit of a pirate and a pioneer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She pushes the people at the leading edge even further.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's been able to spark conversations that really go toward what should be done versus what is being done.


GUPTA: With all the talk about changes to health management, Dr. Saxon believes now is the time we need to rethink the way health care is consumed.


SAXON: Wouldn't it be great to get a call from your smartphone to tell you that your doctor needs to talk to you about something you don't really feel yet?


GUPTA: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and this is THE NEXT LIST.


SAXON: You ask me what the benefit is to having medical information. It's almost like saying what is the benefit to reading toll society? What benefit do I get from reading some of the best novels that have ever been written and being educated enough to realize the gift of that? It's just being more evolved.

My name is Leslie Saxon. I'm the chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at USC and the executive director for the Center for Body Computing.

The Center for Body Computing is an innovation institute that is dedicated to realizing the future of medicine through wireless communication. When we started the center for body computing, a lot of people came and they said I'll do this for you, Leslie but just once.

It was really science fiction and they kind of laughed. Then it became science fact. Year after year, we have the products and the cases and technology. We were able to do some key things and get some buy-in.

DR. DAVID ALBERT, DEVELOPED IPHONE ECG: We simply snap the case onto our phone, and then we have an app and I can take this app and then simply apply my fingers to the back and what we get is you're seeing my electrocardiogram. That's my heart's signal.

I'm Dr. David Albert and I developed the iPhone ECG. I've collaborated with Dr. Leslie Saxon on bringing wireless health into the 21st Century. The case talks wirelessly to the phone, which then transmits it immediately to the worldwide web where securely, a doctor literally on the other side of the world, could diagnosis an athlete or a patient instantaneously, within 5 seconds of me finishing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turn it over and that's your beautiful EKG.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically, just by putting your fingers on these electrodes, you can get a single EKG, and all I have to do on my iPhone is launch an application.

ALBERT: Five years from now, every phone will be a smartphone. That's going to be how people interact with their physicians. That's going to be how you deliver health care.

SAXON: What we like to do at the center is take a beautiful breakthrough technology like this and apply it across large segments of the population. You know, yes, do it scientifically, but also try to imagine on it. You know, what is the best use case for this for a USC athlete or a professional athletes or a cardiologist? How can we educate the next generation of patients? It's changed my practice and it's changed my life in a lot of ways.


GUPTA: We had our numbers up there the whole time. You and I were --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in the red zone. We were on overdrive.

GUPTA: When we come back, one of my most challenging workouts and technology Dr. Saxon hopes will change sports forever.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanjay, looking good, looking good.

BRIAN RUSSELL, CEO, ZEPHYR: We are going to be putting this device on Sanjay. So we measure the heart rate and respiration rate, what we call the physiology. What we're going to see here in the gym today is Sanjay against different types of athletes. We got some ball players, a football player.

My name is Brian Russell. I'm the CEO of Zephyr. I work with Leslie to measure patients and professional athletes. To measure somebody, we need to put it on them so it's un-encumbered, and then someone like Leslie can look at the data while she's in clinic and can logon and see it anywhere around the world.

SAXON: This gives us an amazing amount of medical grade data. It's a very much more sophisticated way to assess somebody's fitness realtime and allow them to create a plan around their fitness and around metrics aren't usually worked on like explosiveness, jump height, things like that. It's a way we're monitoring elite athletes to provide them and their coaches with more feedback.

GUPTA: Are we done warming up yet? So what did you just put us through here?

SAXON: Well, if was a lot of fun, first of all, congratulations. You really hung in there. A lot of different workouts with a lot of different measures so the goal is to be able to tell you something, tell the trainer something.

Tommy Haas, the tennis player, is really fit where he seemed to tire a little bit was with the side stepping with the ball so in terms of where to improve the strength or work, maybe to focus on that. Nick, the baseball player, super strong guy, very explosive, maybe more cardiovascular.

NICK SWISHER, CLEVELAND INDIANS: Everything is getting more and more precise, which can help you to elongate your career or make it the best you can be. After this workout, I'm sure these guys are back there being like this guy needs to do more cardio, more stretching.

GUPTA: These are obviously athletes and peak performers and trying to get better. What about the average person?

SAXON: I think it translates into the average person. We're all trying to improve something. We don't start at this level, unfortunately, but I think being able to also incrementally do a prescription, here is where you are now, and set it up for success.

GUPTA: USC is a big prominent sports school. How does that work for you?

SAXON: We love our athletic department and our athletes. Trying to give them their heart rate so they can figure it out, and then hopefully prevent their injuries. They could continue to play through college and maybe beyond that.

ALI KHOSROSHAHIN, COACH, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WOMEN'S SOCCER: We had a lot of injuries for the last three seasons and that was the interest in the heart rate monitors.

My name is Ali Khosroshahi, and I'm the women's soccer coach at the University of Southern California. Dr. Saxon came in and made a presentation to the head coaches.

With the heart rate monitors, they're able to come up with a formula that gives them a training load. And when that number gets to a certain level, the athletes are more susceptible to injury. So we back off, which has been hugely beneficial.

SAXON: Why does an elite gifted athletes need to be so hurt, be out, or need rehab? We really want to get to them and use this stuff to figure out how to use keep them at it longer. GUPTA: When you have a day like today and observe all you have observed, does it validate more of what you have been talking about?

SAXON: It does, because everything time I do something like this, I go back to my hospital because that's my base. They inform each other so well. What I see working here is going to work for any kind of patient.

This is my patient, Ken Masuda. You have been my patient for how long?


SAXON: We go back a ways and he has an arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation. And often, when somebody gets heart failure, they need to be hospitalized and get IV therapy. This device has the promise of by tracking the pressure daily and acting on it, having to eliminate the need for hospitalizations, and we're hoping it also improved patient survival. What Ken does from home is he holds this over the device.

MASUDA: Once in the morning and once in the evening, I put it up to my chest. It tells me my blood pressure right now is 136 over 81, and push enter.

SAXON: And twice a day, it reads the pressure in his heart, and then wirelessly over the screen, we give him a prescription of what to take. That's called a dynamic prescription. That's not just a one size fits all approach to the patient care, right.

It's a really tailored approach where he's on some background medications, but depending on what the pressure is, we're able to act twice a day. The other thing that is really big here is that when you're a patient getting this, you start to learn your own condition.

MASUDA: I always take this with me and keep it fully charged.

SAXON: I want his quality of life to be good. He's an active guy, likes to do a lot of different things, including go hang out with his buddies and have a drink occasionally. That's OK. We want him to do that.

In my view, moving the needle on health care, meaning getting good health care outcomes doesn't mean a 1940s model of health care where there's a single doctor that does everything and a low tech environment.

It means the ruthless efficiency of digital applied over a very large population and saving the most talented, high-end people, which are the highly trained physicians to really take care of those people who need them.

It means that instead of going for your annual check-up or to a doctor when you're sick, you get a phone call that says you're about to get sick.

GUPTA: Is the harder group to convince the physicians or the patients?

SAXON: There's no question, the physicians are the hardest group to convince. I had to struggle a little bit with the prevailing mindset. We have to show them how these digital solutions allow them to be better doctors. I think that's an obligation we have.


GUPTA: Up next, Dr. Saxon puts a new sensor to the test.



SAXON: Light bulb is a pro feeding on a doubles court and there's a challenging team and a defending team. You have eight players and it goes super fast for an hour and a half. It's an incredible outlet, even though it pains my body at 53 and it's hard walking down the stairs the next day, you're working on your skill set.

I'm very proud to be wearing the first shrine during athletics. The disk lights up with motion as you move so you know you have completed your day's activities by getting a light outside the circle.

SONNY VU, CEO, MISFIT WEARABLES: To be the first person outside the country we're going to allow to wear the product. I'm Sonny Vu, CEO of Misfit Wearables and Dr. Saxon is an adviser to our company. It's a wireless tracker that you just clip on.

Literally, you just shake it, and it tells you basically how well you're doing. Like how many steps you actually took or how long you were swimming and what not. It makes it so simple, all you have to do is lay it on the phone, that's it, and the data is transferred.

SAXON: I have also been thinking about it for patient applications. Just telling a patient all you have to do is light up all these lights on the disk when you go home from the hospital. We can set that level of activity and then keep increasing it.

GUPTA: Do people say, Dr. Saxon, it sounds good, but it's gimmicky? It sounds like a gimmick?

SAXON: Yes, they do. You know, go put the iPod on the defibrillator, I get that all the time. On the other hand, we have been massively unsuccessful of getting people to take their drugs and fitness. Why not make it into a gym?

One of the reasons we're partnering, as much as I love the engineers who develop the devices, they're very engineering and they're not really interested in the user experience for the doctor, much less the patient. We needed a design that really understood that.

STUART KARTEN, KARTEN DESIGN: Our current health system is in disarray. Right now, it's very hospital focused, and the movement she's pioneering and where this is moving is it's really going to follow patients and people. SAXON: We have really, I think, created some ground breaking products. This is called a flexible electronics. They are implanted on this plastic. So imagine you can just put on your body tattoo on your body computer, and suddenly for a week, I've got my power pack on, and many of my functions are being monitored.

This is a device we followed and done a lot of research in, and it's premarket stage and now it's approved. It really just sticks on and you can wear it for a week and it's completely wireless and goes to a cellular device, transmitting data, fluid amounts in the lungs and other things we want to know about.

GUPTA: It seems a little sci-fi. I mean, this idea that we could predict and know things before the patient would themselves. Is that imminent? Is that really going to happen?

SAXON: Yes, we're investigating a number of devices now where we measure, for instance, pressure in the heart, and we know that that goes up two weeks before patients get symptoms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First time the capability for a patient to self interrogate.

SAXON: That's what I'm saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The patient trying to see the physician is connected to their smartphone.

SAXON: We were able to develop and make technically work an entirely new way to ask the questions, know what they're doing, and communicate to patients, all remote.

KEN PERSEN, SOFTWARE ENGINEER: In today's scenario, a patient might have to travel a couple hours and sit in an emergency room for another hour and a half once they arrive. With this technology, we give them the capability to self interrogate, self manage, and then interconnect with a physician so it's an immediate, an extraordinary time savings.

SAXON: The patient doesn't have to go anywhere. So it saves dollars, but to me, most importantly, it changes the game on patient safety. We know their hearts are damaged. We put a $20,000, $30,000 device in. Let's use it to manage them. This is the first system in history that can do that in a realtime way.

GUPTA: There are always obstacles to these things. Talk about the health insurance industry, for example. If they don't buy into this and say, look, it's too costly.

SAXON: I don't pay a lot of attention to them. I just try to do what is right. I think the consumers will pull the insurers along as well. We have actually seen a lot of openness. Insurers are looking for new ways to keep people healthier. A lot of my inspiration and ideas come from like my children, who are digital natives and using things all the time from the gaming community.

ROSE SAXON, DAUGHTER OF DR. LESLIE SAXON: I really like social networking. Once she got into that realm, I started coming up with ideas and sharing them with her. My name is Rose and Dr. Saxon is my mom.

I was like, what if we did something where you saw someone you thought was cute or something, you liked, and then people could see how your heart rate would go up? It would almost be like a digital truth or dare.

SAXON: What if you could stamp every interaction as a window into how you were feeling and experiences. Then we have heart rate data on millions of teenagers we never had access to before. I have learning from all of these disciplines and trying to think about it through a health lens.


GUPTA: Coming up, your next doctor's appointment could be in your car.



SAXON: One of the most important collaborations we have is with the USC School of Cinematic Arts and being able to take both their creative take on technology and their ability to tell a story and engage and entertain and apply that to mobile or wireless health care could be. It seems like the winning formula.

ELIZABETH DAILY, DEAN: I think her work is critical. The important thing that I appreciate about Leslie is she understands the real importance of being able to tell stories. Because that's what people remember. And if you want to get compliance from a patient, storytelling is one of the best ways in the world to do it.

SAXON: I have always been a person who didn't just love medicine or science. I also love film and I love literature and my brother is a film producer whom I'm very close to, my husband is a writer. I like sport, so I was also looking for a way to integrate what I did with the things I'm also passionate about.

ED SAXON, FILM PRODUCER: I think there's an opportunity for story tellers to work with doctors and researchers to literally change the way health care is delivered. My name is Ed Saxon. I'm a film producer, most famously, I produced a movie about a doctor called "The Silence of the Lambs."

Why am I watching this, is a question when you're watching a film. In the silence of the lambs, it's can a woman save another woman. In your health narrative with another device, it's maybe, can I lose weight?

Can I make my family more healthy? You're looking at each discreet case for a storyline that people can connect to emotionally. This is going to make me stick around longer.

SAXON: Scott put it in a car, basically. PROF. SCOTT FISHER, USC SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ART: Leslie found out about the stuff we were doing with BMW and kind of developing a persona for the car, figuring out how do you turn the car into a character, and then got excited about, how can we do that around devices.

SAXON: I'm a cardiologist, I love the heart, it's the center of the soul and everything else, but we started with the heart. It should be agnostic, but to start with something like your heart beat that changes on a minute, like the car, that kind of responsiveness seemed intuitive, and the technology was there.

DANIEL GRIEN, DESIGNER, BMW: We have one of our prototypes, it's the steering wheel. So we integrated a heart rate sensor in the steering wheel. Are you stressed, are you relaxed? Things like that, we want to monitor. This is where Leslie came into place, with the Center for Body Computing.

SAXON: Having this great experience in the car, and then in the background, passively, if you need to access it, you're learning about your own health and wellness. Imagine I had a long day, I get into my car, I turn it on, grab the steering wheel.

It immediately goes to the right temperature because I'm warm, I'm tired. It then measures my biometrics without me being aware of it and plays a song we have identified is good for me.

People are not going to learn themselves or participate in their health and wellness without having these experiences create habits and follow them everywhere. It enhances their relationship with everything they do in their life.

Medicine can no longer being segregated and you have no access. It has to be entertaining. This car with this product is an unbelievable opportunity. For everybody to love this, it has to be easy, and the seamless experience where suddenly I'm getting the mash-up of the music I like, the driving experience I like, and my heart rate.

I try to live every day like I'm in a start-up, that I could go broke tomorrow, and in some cases, it's really true. If you live with that urgency, that means you have to get stuff done. What is next is getting some of the products we had a big part of out to the marketplace.

Then I think we'll see this world of possibility. Big dream for me is being able to say at the end of the day, we brought experts to people. We taught the world about health. And we used tools we had, and we saved money.

We had all that money left over to do all these amazing things like cure cancer, understand genomics, designer drugs. That would be just an incredible accomplishment, and then I would like to focus on French. In any rate, the journey has been worthwhile.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GUPTA: Dr. Saxon's quest to integrate medicine with the digital world isn't farfetched. She estimates smartphones that send health data to doctors could be in patients' hands in five years. Imagine having an exam and a diagnosis without having to leave your home or your car.

Dr. Saxon is finding wireless solutions that bring her closer to patients, transforming the way they live and giving them the power to monitor their own health. That's what earns her a spot on THE NEXT LIST.

I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Hope to see you back here next week.