Remember Google Glass, the much-hyped head-mounted display that was launched back in 2012 via a shocking skydiving stunt? Despite the amount of time and money spent by the tech giant, the project failed to be commercially successfully, resulting in the discontinuation of the $1,500 contraption in January of 2015. It seems, however, that the smart eyewear could be of some use to doctors, especially while performing emergency medical consultations remotely.
According to a team from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Google Glass could allow off-site doctors to observe patients and make accurate diagnosis in real-time. As pointed out by the team, the device can also be helpful to first responders in disaster scenarios. In the past, hospitals have tried using the product to directly project the patients’ medical records into the doctor’s field of visions for easy perusal.
This, however, proved problematic, since the Glass’ display is actually too small for medical personnel to look through intricate charts, tables and other data. According to a team of doctors at the UMMS, the contraption might be better used to send data out, instead of procuring it. Speaking about the find, Peter Chai of the University of Massachusetts Medical School said:
As an emergency physician, you’re really busy and you end up making decisions with your specialists very quickly. A lot of those times you’re talking to your specialist over the phone, and they’re just hearing verbal descriptions. Everybody wants to be there to see the patient.
Telemedicine, which refers to the use of telecommunication technologies to provide healthcare services remotely, is becoming increasingly popular today. At present, it relies on a cart fitted with a computer and a special camera that can be pushed from one room to another. Although effective, this approach is usually inconvenient and obtrusive. By contrast, a head-mounted display could allow specialists to examine patients from a distance, without being obtrusive.
To demonstrate its efficacy, Chai and his team have successfully used Google Glass during emergency dermatology consultations in the Rhode Island Hospital. Previously, the group from UMMS also managed to use the device for toxicology consultations. The method, according to the consulting toxicologist, was up to 89-percent successful, thanks to which six patients were administered antidotes they would have otherwise not received.
As the team points out, Google’s software was removed from the product, in order to ensure that the patients’ medical records are kept confidential. Furthermore, it was made HIPAA-compliant by integrating Pristine Eyesight. Recently, Chai and his colleagues teamed up with Phoenix-based Banner Health to determine the feasibility of using Google Glass in a toxicology intensive care unit.
As part of the study, fifty patients were examined by a Google Glass-assisted specialist. The findings of the exam were compared with that of the controls. The results, according to the researchers, will soon appear in the Journal of Medical Toxicology. Aaron Skolnik of Banner Health believes that the technology could be used in remote, rural areas of Arizona to find out if patients need intensive treatment. He said:
… for medicine, and maybe industrial applications, it [Google Glass] is actually a really great technology. It provides a huge amount of extra data reliably and accurately to a remote person at relatively low cost.
Currently, the doctors at UMMS are testing Google Glass in first responder cases in disaster sites. Using a head-mounted display like the Glass, first responders could send live imagery of the victims to physicians for diagnosis. In the coming months, the researchers will take part in a simulated active shooter scenario, in which 50 to 60 first responders will be equipped with Google Glass so as to be able to communicate with around 15 doctors and trauma surgeons. Chai added:
The end goal of all this is to develop a suite of sensors and technology that allows us to respond to patients remotely. We’re the only profession that still uses pagers.
However, it might be a while before Google Glass is used by ER doctors and other medical professionals. This is because, despite its growth, the ambit of telemedicine remains ill-defined, especially when it comes to remuneration of the specialists and the storage of medical records.
Via: IEEE Spectrum