Google Glass a viable teletoxicology treatment device

Google Glass may prove an effective and viable device in teletoxicology, according to a new study.

Teletoxicology is the treatment of poisoned patients in remote areas using wireless connectivity, a webcam and a viewing prism to allow clinicians to share data in consultation and examination efforts. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology this month, UMass Memorial Medical Center emergency medicine residents used Glass for 18 bedside toxicology consults. The secure video feed then was shared with the toxicology supervising consultant, according to the authors.

The quality of Glass audio and visual transmission was deemed usable in 89 percent of cases, and patient management changed after viewing the patient through Glass in 56 percent of cases. Six patients received antidotes they otherwise would not have, the study determined.

"In the present era of value-based care, a toxicology service using hands-free devices, such as Google Glass, could conceivably expand its coverage area and enhance patient care, while potentially decreasing overall treatment costs," Peter R. Chai, a study author and toxicology fellow, said in an announcement on the study. "Our work shows that the data transmitted by Google Glass can be used to supplement traditional telephone consults, validate bedside physical exams, and diagnose and manage patients."

The research may be part of the re-emergence of Google Glass. The headgear faded a bit following security and invasion of privacy challenges when pushed into the consumer marketplace and Google notably disbanded its Glass Explorer support program. However, Google is set to distribute a new version of the Glass geared toward specific industries, including healthcare. 

The UMass research team's next step is investigating the role Google Glass can play in the remote care of poisoned patients, Chai said.

"It brings a specialist to patients that might not otherwise have access to that kind of expertise. Because Google Glass is relatively unobtrusive to patients, can be operated hands free and is extremely portable, it has a distinct advantage over traditional telemedicine platforms," he said.

For more information:
- get the study
- read the announcement