The digital health sector which encompasses mobile health via 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 totaling $4.5 billion according to Rock Health https://rockhealth.com.
The University of Southern California (USC) www.usc.edu is very active in the Digital Health field. The USC Center for Body Computing (CBC) http://uscbodycomputingl.org, the accelerator for USC School of Keck Medicine www.keck.usc.edu, recently announced their new foundational partners for their Virtual Care Clinic (VCC) www.uscbodycomputing.org/virtual-care-clinic. The new recently announced industry partners include Doctor Evidence, IMS Health, Karten Design, Medable Inc., Planet Grande, Proteus Digital Health, and VSP Global.
The VCC enables USC Keck Medicine experts to provide individuals using a smartphone with medical expertise from USC. This is accomplished by harnessing cutting edge technologies and creative solutions developed at the USC Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT) http://ict.usc.edu located in the heart of the Los Angeles digital zone known as “Silicon Beach”.
In the next few months, the VCC will offer access through smartphones to experts at the USC Eye Institute and the USC Institute of Urology. Ultimately all 1,500 faculty/physician experts, surgeons and researchers at Keck Medicine will become involved in the VCC.
Another project USC ICT is developing virtual human support referred to as SimCoach http://ict.usc.edu/prototypes/cimcoach to help guide military personnel, veterans, and family members on obtaining access to psychological healthcare information.
This technology enables people who might not otherwise seek help use virtual support which helps to break down barriers to initiating care. The goal is to motivate users to seek information and advice regarding psychological health, TBI, and addiction. The virtual support can help with external stressors such as economic or transition issues.
SimCoach enables warfighters and family members to initiate a dialogue about their medical concerns with an interactive virtual human. By guiding the user through a sequence of user-specific exercises and assessments, the SimCoach characters are able to solicit basic anonymous background information, the user’s history, and clinical and/or psychosocial concerns.
The information is presented to provide advice and support, direct the user to relevant online content, and potentially enable the individual to seek appropriate care with a live clinical provider. The SimCoach’s virtual support does not deliver diagnosis or treatment, nor replace human providers.
The SimCoach project is currently funded by the Army Research Laboratory. Previous support came from the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury www.dcoe.mil and the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) www.tatrc.org.