How will Google Glass change your next operation?

Published on: 6 May, 2014


With Google recently opening up the Glass Explorer Program to new Explorers (in the US at this stage), many are waiting to see how this will change the delivery of healthcare in the future, and how this may change your next operation.

In the past year, Google have release nine software updates, 42 Glassware apps, iOS support, prescription frames plus more. Spots are still limited in the Explorer program but there is little doubt there will be more healthcare professional exploring the application in the medical arena.

Lucien Engelen, director of the Radboud Reshape Innovation Centre at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre conducted some of the first research with Google Glass in the healthcare field in Europe. In July 20913, he investigated the usability and impact of Google Glass in healthcare, being the first healthcare professional allowed into the Explorer program also living in Europe. His findings were (amongst others):
1) The quality of pictures and video are usable for healthcare in terms of education, reference and remote consultation.
2) The standpoint of view for operative procedures should be able to tilt, to pinpoint the operative field.
3) Controlling the device and/or programs from another device is needed for some features because of the sterile environment.
4) A Protocol or checklist displayed on the screen of Glass can be helpful during procedures.

Google Glass has also been recently embraced at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the US. Dr Steven Horng launched a pilot program late last year. This week that program has been expanded to the entire emergency department, and the hospital said it was the first hospital in the United States to employ the device for everyday medical care. “We’re doing this to prove that the technology can work and really motivate others to explore this space with us,” said Horng, who helped pioneer the use of Google Glass at the hospital. The Glass devices used at Beth Israel are specially programmed to access information for specific purposes, such as medical records that can only be seen by the wearer. Other applications include remote consultations, recording live video during surgery, or provide quick access to patients’ charts, vital stats and other medical information, all without having to use their hands to operate a computer.

Later this month, 13 doctors from around the US will gather at Google’s Cambridge office to pitch clinical uses for Glass in a contest sponsored by the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the website MedTech Boston.

With Australia’s electronic medical record (EMR) still a while away, lets hope the application of Google Glass can implemented along the way.

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