5 ways Google Glass can be used in a hospital

5 ways Google Glass can be used in a hospital

I recently had the opportunity to test Google Glass.

It’s basically an Android smartphone (without the cellular transmitter) capable of running Android apps, built into a pair of glasses.  The small prism “screen” displays video at half HD resolution.  The sound features use bone conduction, so only the wearer can hear audio output.   It has a motion sensitive accelerometer for gestural commands.    It has a microphone to support voice commands.   The right temple is a touch pad.  It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.   Battery power lasts about a day per charge.

Of course, there have been parodies of the user experience but I believe that clinicians can successfully use Google Glass to improve quality, safety, and efficiency in a manner that is less bothersome to the patients than a clinician staring at a keyboard.

Here are few examples:

1. Meaningful use stage 2 for hospitals. Electronic medication admission records must include the use of “assistive technology” to ensure the right dose of the right medication is given via the right route to the right patient at the right time.   Today, many hospitals unit dose bar code every medication – a painful process.   Imagine instead that a nurse puts on a pair of glasses, walks in the room and Wi-Fi geolocation shows the nurse a picture of the patient in the room who should be receiving medications.  Then, pictures of the medications will be shown one at a time.  The temple touch user interface could be used to scroll through medication pictures and even indicate that they were administered.

2.  Clinical documentation. All of us are trying hard to document the clinical encounter using templates, macros, voice recognition, natural language processing and clinical documentation improvement tools.     However, our documentation models may misalign with the ways patients communicate and doctors conceptualize medical information per Ross Koppel’s excellent JAMIA article.  Maybe the best clinical documentation is real time video of the patient encounter, captured from the vantage point of the clinician’s Google Glass.   Every audio/visual cue that the clinician sees and hears will be faithfully recorded.

3.  Emergency department dashboards. Emergency physicians work in a high stress, fast paced environment and must be able to quickly access information, filtering relevant information and making evidence-based decisions.    Imagine that a clinician enters the room of a patient – instead of reaching for a keyboard or even an iPad, the clinician looks at the patient.   In “tricorder” like fashion, vital signs, triage details, and nursing documentation appear in the Google Glass.   Touching the temple brings up lab and radiology results.  An entire ED dashboard is easily reduced to visual cues in Google Glass.    At BIDMC, we hope to pilot such an application this year.

4.  Decision support. All clinicians involved in resuscitation know the stress of memorizing all the ACLS “code” algorithms.   Imagine that a clinician responding to a cardiac arrest uses Google glass to retrieve the appropriate decision support for the patient in question and visually sees a decision tree that incorporates optimal doses of medications, the EKG of the patient, and vital signs.

5.  Alerts and reminders.  Clinicians are very busy people.   They have to manage communications from email, phone calls, patients on their schedule, patients who need to be seen emergently, and data flowing from numerous clinical systems.   They key to surviving the day is to transform data into information, knowledge and wisdom.   Imagine that Google Glass displays those events and issues which are most critical, requiring action today (alerts) and those issues which are generally good for the wellness of the patient (reminders).    Having the benefits of alerts and reminders enables a clinician to get done what is most important.

Just as the iPad has become the chosen form factor for clinicians today, I can definitely see a day when computing devices are more integrated into the clothing or body of the clinician.    My experience with Google Glass helps me understand why Apple just hired the CEO of Yves Saint Laurent to work on special projects.

Ten years ago, no one could imagine a world in which everyone walked around carrying a smartphone.   Although Google Glass may make the wearer appear a bit Borg-like, it’s highly likely that computing built into the items we wear will seem entirely normal soon.

John Halamka is chief information officer, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and blogs at Life as a Healthcare CIO.

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  • Peta

    Will patients be allowed to refuse to be seen by medicos wearing Google Glass, as anyone wearing Google Glass can be recording them and the video can end up heaven-knows-where?

    For privacy’s sake, I prefer not to have my medical exams videotaped and stored on Google’s non-secure and non-HIPAA-compliant servers, thanks.

    • Guest

      I’m pretty sure no one’s thinking of the actual patients, here. You (and your privacy) are more of an inconvenient afterthought, I’m afraid.

      • guest

        In fact, I’m pretty sure the only real thought being given here is to the “coolness factor” of dreaming up ways of applying this new bit of technology to medicine.

    • Jack

      As a practical matter, your privacy is already subject to the whims of the government or anyone with an interest and a few thousand dollars in budget. It’s a lovely dream, but true patient privacy died sometime between when pharmacies got CCTV (not covered by HIPAA) and when virtually everyone started carrying a GPS locator.

      • MarylandMD

        This is silly. Patient privacy is really very strongly protected in hospitals and physician offices. Despite the inroads the folks at Google and Facebook have been making on our expectations of privacy, there are some areas they haven’t made much progress, thank heavens.

        A CCTV at a pharmacy isn’t remotely similar to physicians and staff walking around a hospital or treating patients with video and audio recording devices strapped to the front of their faces.

        • Trina

          Do people really not get that, do you think, or are they being deliberately disingenuous?

          • MarylandMD

            I have seen similar arguments elsewhere (“People have cell phones with cameras, so what’s the difference??”), so I really do think that they just. do. not. get. it. Google and Facebook are winning the war to get us to surrender our expectations of privacy, so many won’t give a darn if they see cameras everywhere, even in a hospital or a doctor’s office! It’s really kind of pathetic, when you think about it…

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    Buddy, you need a little reality therapy. If you wear a Google Glass, in or out of the hospital, then you are really letting your dork flag fly. You’ll have a hard time getting a date with an actual, physical woman, you will likely not be invited to parties, and people with even minimal social skills (people like me, that is) will both pity and despise you. You’d be better off in a pink tutu with a magic wand. And get rid of the Segway too.

    • drgn

      I agree with you. But I think the younger generation thinks they are cool. I was talking to some 20 yo about google glass (as far as privacy was concerned) and was told that this was only of concern the older generation. Google glass in a hospital agreed is completely tacky.

      • http://onhealthtech.blogspot.com Margalit Gur-Arie

        I am sitting in a room now with two college kids, one 22 yo, one 20 yo, one male, one female, one texting on his iPhone and watching the sports channel on TV, and the other Facebooking or whatever they call it, on her laptop, I asked about Google glass and they didn’t know much about it other than it looks dorky, and no way they’ll put that thing on.

        • drgn

          Very refreshing to hear!

      • azmd

        I checked in with my younger generation (16 and 20) and not only had they never heard of Google Glass, my explanation was met with blank looks and the question “Why would anyone want one of those?” Then they went back to their iPhones.

        • drgn

          Nice to hear. I am surrounded by computer country so it is hard to escape. Even the guys at the local gas station know what google glass is.

  • Guest

    Under “Related Stories” on this page, if you click on “How Doctors Will Use Google Glass”, the comments there cover many of the same concerns I have.

  • Skip Rodenbush

    First thought when I learned of Glass. I want to add 2-way video for coaching/mentoring from the leading specialists to the on-site surgeon(s).
    Make sense?

    • Guest

      Google Glass video goes through (and is stored on) Google servers. Google is not HIPAA compliant, and in fact there have been cases of Google technicians illegally using Gmail and Gchat data, in one case to stalk a teenaged girl. You might ask your patients how they’d feel about anonymous spotted nerds in a data center far, far away being able to watch and disseminate, if they wish, videos of your patient’s exam or surgery.

      • Skip Rodenbush

        I’m interested in plugging in an app that eliminates your concern. The technology to make it comply is there and it’s is easy.

    • guest

      Gee, I don’t know. What would you think about trying to simultaneously interact with a client while also trying to process “coaching/mentoring” that was coming from a small screen positioned near your eye? What do you think your client would think about you paying partial attention to them and partial attention to the “coach?”

      • Skip Rodenbush

        I don’t know. What do you think about a generation that walks around in their artificial electronic environment starting from birth?

        Skip Rodenbush
        Healthcare Application Specialist

        *Zoom Video Communications, Inc.*
        *480.823.2030*

        • guest

          I think there’s a lot that you and the rest of us don’t know about how a child’s neurodevelopment could be affected, possibly adversely, by the type of synthetic input you are describing, so I personally think I will not be hopping on that bandwagon any time soon. I am completely unconcerned about whether this attitude causes me to appear uncool to a certain segment of the population.

          • Skip Rodenbush

            I completely agree with you. Having said that, I’ve seen 1000s of situations where having an expert in the ear would make the difference between a success and a failure. Having a visual of what the remote Glass wearer in doing would be monumental in a wide variety of healthcare settings.

            Skip Rodenbush
            Healthcare Application Specialist

            *Zoom Video Communications, Inc.*
            *480.823.2030*

          • Trina

            Ah. He’s selling something.

          • Skip Rodenbush

            Just the future

  • MarylandMD

    Yet another IT guy telling us doctors how we will be so much better off with the new computer stuff he has planned for us.

    Thank you very much, but I am still reeling from a recent imposition of that EMR called Epic that you IT folks told me would make my job so much easier and safer.

    Now that you have told me how I can do my job better, I have a suggestion for you, Mr IT Guy: get the EMRs so they work for the physicians and not the other way around. After you do that, then maybe we can talk Google Glass.

  • MarylandMD

    Good point. Humans really don’t multitask well.

    We physicians already have plenty of distractions. What we need is fewer things cluttering our visual and intellectual environment so we can get back to that doctoring thing we are supposed to be doing.

    • BudgetDoc.com

      Agreed! Last thing anyone needs is notifications and alerts popping up in front of their eyeballs while they’re taking care of patients.

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