Boston Google Glass Challenge

Google glass is a ground breaking technology that will revolutionize the way that physicians practice medicine. Last Wednesday April 23rd I was present for the Google Glass Challenge “Final Smack down” at Google in Cambridge, MA. I gained a new appreciation for Google Glass after viewing innovative demos of the new technology and hearing first account experiences of the technology from physicians.

The first speaker, Nayan Jain, Presidential Innovation Fellow told an amusing story that demonstrates how new the technology is and how it is not widespread yet. He spoke about being in a foreign country and how the government officials of that country thought he was a terrorist because he was wearing Google Glass. He said was hoping to show the officials how glass can be utilized for homeland security, but they were unimpressed. In other words, he said “he was lucky to get out with his life and his Google Glass intact”.

Rafael Grossman, a pioneer in medicine, the first physician to use Google Glass during surgery presented next. He started by presenting the shocking figures that 440,000 deaths occur every year from preventable medical errors and 40 times a week wrong side surgery occurs. Google Glass would rectify these hazards by notifying the physician when they were about to perform a medical error. Google Glass would also engineer new medical training techniques as med students would be able to see exactly what the professor was seeing from anywhere in the world instead of the dated method of students watching through a viewing window. Currently, we utilize EHR’s in the same way we did with paper records, clinicians manually put data into the EHR and take it out. Google Glass would allow information to be sent and received from the EHR automatically.

Chris Coburn, VP of Partners Healthcare talked about the upcoming disruption in the field of healthcare. Currently there are 6,000 hospitals but in the coming years there could be 60 or 60,000 hospitals as the delivery of care changes. He said that while healthcare venture is down as is the funding for lab science, a wider range of companies including hospitals are becoming involved in ventures. Hospitals are starting to back technology and having their own investments.

Dr. Karandeep Singh of Brigham and Women’s Hospital explained that, historically providers would query the patient for information about how the patient was doing. However, the invention of EHR’s has changed this interaction. The science of medicine has been preserved, but the art of medicine has been lost as providers now spend most of their time with the patient entering information into the EHR. Google Glass would allow a provider to stay at the patient’s bedside while reviewing information from the EHR and bring back the lost art of medicine. Amazingly, the technology is able to tell where the provider is in the hospital and automatically pull up the patient’s info based on which room the provider is in. Dr. Singh did an exciting demo where he used phrases like “show me the lab results”, “show me the trend for sodium”, “show me the medications”, and “show me the chest x-ray”. All of the commands swiftly provided the information that Dr. Singh had asked for.

Steven Horng from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center described how the hospital has employed Google Glass in their workflows. He compared the implementation of Google Glass to the implementation of iPads at BIDC. BIDC went live with iPads immediately after they released which allowed physicians to spend 30 minutes less at their workstations. BIDC went live with Google Glass three weeks after they received Glass and it is expected to decrease time at the workstation even more. Their V1 one of the deployment permitted information retrieval, which included lists of patients, vital signs triage notes, provider information with pictures, comments on what is happening with the patient, medication reconciliation, problem lists and allergies. The purpose of their V2 is to integrate Google Glass with the entire enterprise. This will use machine learning to use all the available data about the patient and determine how sick a person is based on mortality rates.

Google Glass is a very exciting technology that will transform the way doctors practice medicine and utilize their Electronic Health Records. It will allow providers to focus more of their time and attention on the patient which will allow the art of medicine to be reawakened.

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