Google Glass Will Revolutionize Medicine
Posted by Lawrence HermanComment

Lawrence HermanThis article was originally posted on PracticingClinicians.com on April 1, 2013.

I want to be able to walk into a room, and easily and seamlessly bring up a patient’s electronic health record, recent labs and medication list – and see what changed from the previous night or visit. I want the most recent data. I don’t want to be looking at a screen or a tablet, and I especially do not want my back turned to the patient while I type on a laptop or desktop computer. In a perfect world, I want the ability to share my patient encounter with students or colleagues should I need their input.

Very soon, I will be able to do these things, and much more. For those not familiar with the Google Glass Project, the device looks like a pair of eye glasses, but is actually a wearable computer. The hardware includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, video cameras, voice-activation commands with Siri-like Q&A built in, and a heads-up display.

Imagine several medical scenarios using Google Glass:

  • You could walk up to a patient’s bed and instantly see all their vitals such as pulse, BP, EKG, O2 Sats, etc. With a short question like, “OK, Glass, what are the most recent labs?” they appear in your vision.
  • You could see a rash and query Google to compare the rash to an extensive database of rash photos; there might be a back-and-forth series of Q&As about other symptoms (Does the patient have a fever? Is the rash itchy? Is the rash raised or flat? Are their vaccinations up to date?). Google could then provide a differential diagnosis to consider.
  • A student brings up their notes and lab reports as they present their patient case to their preceptor, with data available in real time.

Google Glass is currently being tested by thousands of people across the world. Click here to get an idea of what this already can do. It is very likely that the major changes above can be implemented by Google Glass or wearable computers.

Let’s face it: Medicine is changing. We are heavily involved with real-time data to treat patients whose status frequently changes. The ability to utilize tools that can keep us connected and up-to-date may help prevent medical errors. It may also increase efficiency of care, collaboration with fellow providers, help educate new students, and lead to a potentially major change in medical practice. No longer do we use the black bag of the 19th century physician, but rather we have graduated to using technology to increase our level of care.

Make no mistake, there are potential issues here. First, the issue of privacy could be overwhelming. But the second issue, the collection of what is called “big data,” could change public health dramatically.  We could follow infectious diseases, such as whooping cough, and know when an outbreak is occurring in a community in real time. We would know what previously unknown drug interactions are occurring with a newly released prescription medication. Data could be collected on virtually everything and anything medical and tagged by GPS location.

Lawrence Herman, PA-C, MPA, DFAAPA, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, N.Y., and AAPA President-elect.

See also: Who’s on First?

This article was originally posted on PracticingClinicians.com on April 1, 2013.

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