The USC Center for Body Computing (CBC), the digital health innovation accelerator for the Keck Medicine of USC medical enterprise, today announced its eight foundational partners for its Virtual Care Clinic (VCC). The disruptive digital health care model does not require patient or care providers to be present in the same place for seamless, integrated solutions designed to provide on-demand access to care. The VCC extends Keck Medicine of USC experts to anyone with a smartphone by harnessing cutting-edge technologies and creative solutions developed at the renown USC Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT) in Playa Vista, the heart of Los Angeles’ digital zone known as Silicon Beach.

In addition to its collaboration with ICT, the USC CBC invited the following best-in-class foundational partners to establish its VCC ecosystem: Doctor Evidence, IMS Health, Karten Design, Medable, Planet Grande, Proteus Digital Health and VSP Global. Using mobile apps, “virtual doctors,” data collection and analysis systems, world-class diagnostic and wearable sensors coupled with experiential design and engaging, expert patient health information, the VCC delivers wireless, on-demand access to Keck Medicine of USC experts while doctors go beyond telemedicine models for remote management and care of patients regardless of location.

“Our Virtual Care Clinic is not only the democratization of health care allowing anyone access to our medical experts without leaving their home, but it also capitalizes on the promise that digital health is supposed to offer,” said Leslie Saxon, MD. “Because we have worked in collaborationwith our VCC partners and our medical experts, this health care model will empower patients, improve quality outcomes with more precision medicine analytics and diagnosis, and enhance the physician-patient relationship by creating a contextualized experience and seamless communication that puts the patient in the driver seat of their own health care experience and outcomes.”

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Dr. Saxon further explained the partnership with USC ICT assures that best-in-class technologies developed at ICT can be leveraged for and patients will remain engaged in their health in a more continuous manner using creative and engaging, highly tailored solutions.

“University-based medical centers like ours are natural sources of health care innovation given the focus on basic science, clinical and translational research,” said Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and chief executive officer of Keck Medicine of USC. “But to achieve truly transformational medicine, we have to collaborate with the private sector, particularly the digital health and technology companies like our VCC partners. Innovative patient care models such as our VCC will create operational efficiencies and cost-savings allowing us to refocus resources back into more innovation and constantly improve the patient experience. This is redefining medical care.”

Jackiewicz also stated that the USC Center for Body Computing, which is the cornerstone in Keck Medicine of USC’s digital health innovation strategy, is uniquely positioned for digital health leadership. While there are a dozen academic medical enterprises nationwide that have announced digital health programs and institutes in the last three to four years, the decade-long history behind USC’s CBC coupled with Keck Medicine of USC’s proximity to partners in Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach and Hollywood as well as its ability to translate the innovation into the clinical operation, make it more than just an “ideation” effort.

“We are honored to partner with USC CBC on this groundbreaking new health care delivery model,” said Randall W. Hill, Jr., executive director of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. “We know from our research that people are comfortable sharing information with our virtual characters. We look forward to the personalization and accessibility these and other ICT technologies will provide to improve care for VCC visitors and to prove what is possible for the future of clinical care.”

In the next few months, the VCC will initially offer access to its experts at the USC Eye Institute, ranked No. 9 among ophthalmologic programs in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report, and the USC Institute of Urology, recognized as a worldwide leader in robotic cancer surgery for bladder, prostate and kidney cancer. Ultimately all 1,500 faculty/physician experts, surgeons and researchers at Keck Medicine of USC will become involved in the VCC.

The digital health sector – which encompasses mobile health, remote monitoring through smartphone-enabled devices or apps, sensors, and other wireless health solutions – has seen exponential growth over the last four years with 2015 venture funding in the space totaling $4.5 billion according to Rock Health. Two-thirds of all Americans, 200 million people, own a smartphone according to Pew Research and a report by MobileFuture stated use of mobile devices as health tools and remote patient monitoring could save the U.S an estimated $36 billion in health care costs by 2018.

In addition, patients and physicians are embracing technology for better care. According to the “Top Health Industry Issues of 2016” report by PwC’s Health Research Institute, 81 percent of physicians say mobile access to medical information helps coordinate patient care and 88 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data with their doctor to find new treatments.

by Sherri Snelling