A Blog by Jonathan Low


Mar 13, 2014

Forceps. Scalpel. Google Glass?

A tale of two technologies: some bar and saloon owners are banning Google Glasses because they provoke arguments and fights. They are considered in various public social venues an in-your-face declaration of wealth, privilege and techier-than-thou-ness.

But in hospitals, clinics, doctors offices and labs they are being greeted as a solution to a growing problem: the need to quickly access increasingly complex medical records while conducting examinations, operations and other healthcare-related interventions.

The combination of hands-free interactive access with the growth of electronic medical records, is provoking a rethinking of how to record and respond to changes in patient condition. Transmitting audio and video, securing updates on pharmaceutical impact and other information-based knowledge management challenges may help optimize the delivery of health care as cost pressures rise.

Research suggests that doctors spend 50 percent of their time on documentation so Google Glasses or similar technologies may have a transformational affect on the management of time and information. The issue of privacy is a constant presence in medical record-keeping as it is for technology and data management so their co-evolutionary growth may be beneficial.

The larger consequence may be the evolution of technology to optimize data management at the personal level. JL

Barry Levine reports in VentureBeat:

Whatever other killer apps may emerge, Google Glass is on its way to becoming a home run for medicine.
A recent case in point: Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess hospital has been testing Glass in the Emergency Department – and the CIO has blogged about it. (Medical professionals blog a lot these days.)
“I believe wearable computing will replace tablet-based computing for many clinicians who need their hands free and instant access to information,” wrote Dr. John Halamka today. A medical doctor, Halamka is CIO at the hospital.
Glass is being used there to securely access internal data while doctors speak with and examine patients in the Emergency Department. Halamka posted that the device “really differentiates itself when it comes to real-time updates and notifications,” especially when coupled with location services that can call up the right data for the right place.
“What we really want to see evolved is electronic health records transmitted directly into Google Glass in real time,” Dr. Ismail Nabeel told VentureBeat.
Nabeel, an attending physician and assistant professor in the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus, pointed out that medical uses of Glass are currently limited by such issues as its lack of integration with hospital systems.
“It’s just like the iPhone was [in 2007]“, he noted.
One function that is operational and valuable, he said, is its ability to record and transmit audio and video. At Ohio State, the device has been used hands-free to record during a surgery as well as to conduct searches via voice.
While live streams of hands-free interactive data could add a value that medicine has never had before, documentation could be the big-time saver that drives the industry to fully adopt such a device.
“Documentation takes up to to 50 percent of a doctor’s time,” Dr. Jennifer Joe told us. Joe is the founder/editor-in-chief of a Boston-based non-profit, MedTech, that is helping to introduce new technology to clinicians.
As part of that effort, MedTech is conducting a Google Glass Challenge, only the second in the nation.
She pointed to two of the most interesting entries in the first round. In one proposal for Massachusetts General Hospital, Glass-recorded audio is coupled with selected video and still photos to take the place of the detailed and time-consuming documentation that normally follows surgery.
Another, again at Beth Israel Deaconess, seeks to document the 15 parameters of stroke patients from the time they enter the emergency room. Giving the correct treatment at the correct time for a rapidly changing stroke victim can make the critical difference.
Medical documentation is also essential to medical education, and Joe pointed out, “Being able to see a surgery from the surgeon’s point of view has never been done before.”
Glass could also lead to more patient time. Prepping with records before seeing a cancer patient, she said, “is 30 to 45 minutes of a doctor’s time,” but one proposal to MedTech would reduce it to ten minutes or so in the hallway on your interactive eyepiece.
“Google Glass,” she said, “is definitely a game changer.”


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