Google Glass could be promising technology for the ER

Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, has performed preliminary testing with Google Glass and plans to run a pilot in the medical school's emergency department later this year, according to an article in eWeek.

John D. Halamka, M.D., CIO of BIDMC, hopes to deploy a half-dozen to a dozen Glass devices in emergency rooms as part of the hospital's pilot. 

"In an emergency setting, where you have to weed through vast amounts of data and take actions, [while] addressing highest priorities first, Google Glass can help turn the data into wisdom," Halamka is quoted as saying. With its Android-based OS and visual cues, the Google Glass eyewear has the potential to transform how doctors view emergency room dashboards, he said in the article.

Consisting of a pair of glasses which contain a display, a camera, and a microphone, Google Glass runs the Android OS and as a result can support mobile health apps directly on the device. "Because it's an Android phone without the cell, you can basically assume that anything written for an Android phone can run on Google Glass," according to Halamka.

"You've got a half HD display, you've got a microphone, you've got a bone-conduction earphone, you've got accelerometer capability and you've got touch," he said. "Given those APIs, the sophistication of the applications is quite high."

For instance, Halamka asserted that doctors could use the temple touch user interface to scroll through lab and radiology results, such as a patient's electrocardiogram. Google Glass could also aid clinical documentation by providing real-time video of a patient encounter and allowing doctors to record audio and visual cues.

Furthermore, an emergency room could make use of Glass by allowing vital signs, triage details and nursing documentation to be viewed on the wearable device, while reducing the awkwardness of a PC getting in the way of patient interaction, according to Halamka. 

"Just as the iPad has become the chosen form factor for clinicians today, I can definitely see a day when computing devices are more integrated into the clothing or body of the clinician," wrote Halamka in a July 16 blog post.

In related news, Qualcomm Life and Palomar Health this week announced the launch of Glassomics, a glassware medical incubator that will explore the application of wearable computing in medicine. The collaboration is meant to "foster further industry partnerships in the research and development of potential uses of glassware in healthcare, including augmented reality guided clinical applications, new user experience paradigms for clinical navigation of complex data and physiological monitoring applications."  

To learn more:
- read the eWeek article

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