To open the 9th annual USC Body Computing Conference held earlier this month, Dr. Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist and the conference’s founder, screened a short video for a mixed crowd of technologists and medical specialists. In the video, she stands front of a camera while her image is beamed in real time as a hologram to her patient in Dubai. Saxon asks her patient about her symptoms, diagnoses the problem, and walks her through her treatment options, face-to-face, without ever leaving her office.
This is what Saxon calls hologram house calls, and it’s part of the University of Southern California’s recently announced Virtual Care Clinic that will use technology like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, mobile apps and wearables to make health care both more personalized and more accessible. The clinic is founded on the belief that in the same way we’ve seen a revolutionary change in the way culture and society use technology, we’ll soon see the same in the medical industry.
“This is really the moment to transform traditional health care and transform digital health care systems,” says Saxon, who is also the executive director of USC’s Center for Body Computing. “In doing so, we can really provide patients around the globe with health care where there’s never been any. And we can provide patients with the type of data they need and the information they need to be in command of their health care story.”
So far, the center is developing two separate but interconnected technologies to coincide with the clinic’s launch. The first are the hologram house calls, which, as Saxon shows in the video (also below), would allow physicians to visit their patients anywhere in the world. For people with rare or serious conditions who don’t live near a good hospital or research center, it would ensure that a specialist is never out of reach. And for people in remote corners of the globe, it would mean reliable access to health care.