Hospital to test Google Glass for real-time ER care

Rhode Island Hospital in Providence appears poised to become the first hospital in the nation to test Google Glass for real-time emergency room care, according to a report by the Providence Journal.

In a six-month pilot beginning Friday, the hospital will use the tool to stream live images of patient medical conditions to remote consulting specialists. In particular, the pilot will focus on ER patients with skin conditions who agree to participate in the study.

Other providers have used Glass in surgical settings, and John Halamka, CIO at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has even talked about using the technology for a pilot in his own facility's ER. In December, he said that BIDMC had been working on various network and client issues, adding that he'd provide updates once actual use took place, according to MassDevice.

However, according to Paul Porter, an emergency medicine doctor at the hospital, RIH is the first facility to officially begin ER testing.

"No one is as far along as us," Porter tells the Journal. "We think this has tremendous potential to make care better for people, faster and eventually cheaper."

Privacy has been a paramount concern regarding use of the technology, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. In particular, hospital providers have expressed issues regarding the transmission of patient information. Many, like RIH, have obtained consent of patients before using Glass.

According to the Providence Journal, however, RIH is using the only form of Google Glass that meets federal patient privacy laws, as it only streams live and encrypted video and audio; it cannot connect to the Internet or store any video, audio or photographs. Porter tells the newspaper that his hospital's consent plan is more about standards of care and potential "kinks" in the technology.

Last month, Google announced that its cloud platform will support business associate agreements in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

To learn more:
- read the Providence Journal article
- here's Halamka's MassDevice post
- check out the Wall Street Journal article

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