Leslie Saxon, MD, has her heart set on disruptive innovation in health care. As a cardiologist and founder/executive director of the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Body Computing and USC Virtual Care Clinic (sponsored by VSP Global), Saxon’s passion for providing affordable, global health care shows. “Access to care is the problem we haven’t been able to solve,” said Saxon, during an energetic start to her VM Summit session, “Mind Over Matter.” “What I think we’re evolving to is digital care.”

For Saxon, the future of health care—be it cardiology or optometry—is not expensive devices, but mobile technology that can “leverage storytelling and social networks for health,” she said. “Once we take the fear out of medicine, we can turn it into a virtual story. We can engage people for their own good.”

At the USC Virtual Care Clinic, researchers aim to create a system of digital health care in which patients have the ability to access world-class care, without having to visit a world-class doctor. In other words, what Seamless does for food delivery and Uber does for cab rides, the clinic seeks to do for medical diagnosis and care— “doctors on demand.”

Building a data cloud of health, Saxon said, could provide context for patients and give them a more voluntary and active role in their own care. “Let’s make the patients the center of this,” she said. “Contextualized health care, meant for you, on demand.”

Cardiologist Leslie Saxon, MD has her heart set on disruptive innovation in health care.
In a Voice of America (VOA) news clip played during her presentation, Saxon said, “There are only so many experts in the world, and we’re never going to be able to supply the needs of the entire world. We can ‘clone,’ if you will, many of the experts, to provide care anywhere, anytime—without borders.”

And further, Saxon said, the emotional states of doctors themselves can flaw patient care. “We’re human doctors,” she told VOA. “We’re not always in the same mood; we’re not always delivering information in the same way; we’re not always as current as we need to be. These virtual humans are hopefully smarter, and potentially even read the patients better.”

The solution to the global need for timely, accurate and personalized care, Saxon believes, is virtual care—care that is continuous, autonomous, contextualized and even non-judgmental. “If I ask a patient, ‘did you take your drugs today,’ they think I’m asking, ‘are you a good person?’ How do we eliminate that judgment?”

At the VM Summit, Saxon called out some of the major players of social media to illustrate her point: “If Facebook has over a billion users, why can’t we use that to integrate and connect health care in a private place? YouTube provides amazing, engaging videos at a low price for entertainment—why not for medicine?”

And finally, “Make medical discovery like Instagram—kids will know their heart rate and blood pressure,” she said.

The application for eyecare professionals, Saxon said, is integrating eye health into the overall health of the individual. “It’s engaging the emotional state of the user in a way that’s charitable, in a way that demonstrates gratitude—which leads to happiness, which leads to better health.”