Body Computing Conference Announces New Method of Programming Implanted Devices

Posted in Medical Computing by Brian Buntz on October 4, 2012

The sixth annual Body Computing Conference will kick off on October 5, 2012 and cover themes such as “Big Data,” new sensor frontiers, and athletic biosensing. “One of the big things is that we’ve got a very new way to program implanted devices,” says Leslie Saxon, MD the executive director and founder of the USC Center for Body Computing. “We are going to present a Samsung smartphone that is given to a patient at the time they get an implantable device implant. The patient can then use that to interrogate their device and hook into a cloud-based service to reprogram the device,” she says. The technology was developed through the collaboration of the Center for Body Computing, Samsung, Verizon, and Boston Scientific. It is not only empowering for patients but also for doctors and device makers. “It takes 90% of the cost out of what is device follow-up,” Saxon says. “Normally, if a patient has to have a device reprogrammed, they have to wait until a physician or an industry rep finds them with a suitcase-sized programmer. It also allows these lifesaving devices to get into global markets because it reduces the cost of the follow-up by so much.”

Saxon also previewed other highlights of the event: She mentioned a demonstration of Sotera Wireless’s wireless monitoring system for hospitalized patients, a game the Center for Body Computing developed working with an Avery Dennison heart-rate sensing patch and a game company called Ayogo. “It is a heart rate game for kids that allows a doctor to prescribe to a kid his exercise regimen and the kid to do it by playing a game,” Saxon says.

Leslie Saxon, MD was a speaker at this year's TEDMED conference.

The conference will also demo a social network for a hospital—for doctors and patients and a new integrative application called SoulSpotter. In addition, a company known as Habitual will show an app for major behavior modification and change. “A lot of the health and wellness apps that are out there now are kind of fragmented and tell a piece of your health or fitness story,” Saxon explains. “This is really about changing habits and lifestyles based on a lot of social science.”

“We also have this incredible panel with Eric Horvitz, MD, who has worked with Microsoft for 20 years,” Saxon adds. “He’s a real expert scientist and runs Microsoft’s big research building called ‘Building 99.’ He is going to talk about Big Data in health and he has a fantastic panel to help him do that.”

Megan Moynahan from the FDA who is in charge of mobile application regulation will take questions from the innovators.

“We are also going to have an engaging discussion on sports and how sensing and sports can really help athletic performance on the field, prevent injury, and create a different experience for fans,” Saxon says. “Then we will talk about how monitoring athletes can move the culture in the direction of more mobile and wireless monitoring.”

“And then we are going to talk about why we don’t have a major game or entertainment product that can break open mHealth. My brother, Ed Saxon, who is a movie producer is going to lead a panel talking about that with Adrian Hon, creator of "Zombies Run!" and some heavy hitters in the entertainment and communications industry.”

“Finally, we have Sam Agutu, a really brilliant guy from Kenya who has a company who is using mobile to create micro health offerings to the people in Kenya,” she says. “That has been incredibly powerful and is really going to improve health there and those solutions can port to here. Did you know that in Kenya you can buy a slice of bread with a mobile phone? This is about microhealth—how you can parse out and buy just what you need.”

“We view digital health as creating solutions that change the world. Digital health in a way is a humanitarian mission because it is the first thing in a long time that can bring healthcare to everyone and experts to everyone.”

Brian Buntz is the editor-at-large at UBM Canon's medical group. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz.