Google Glass is a way for docs to ‘look patients in the eye again’

It’s a long way from Marcus Welby, M.D. In fact, the device that more doctors may soon wear on their heads looks more like something out of Star Trek.

The sleek, metallic device is Google Glass, which roughly 500 doctors in 27 states now use to live-stream patient exams, according to The Washington Post. The doctors wear Google Glass, which look like high-tech eye glasses, during office visits, live-streaming the exams to virtual scribes, many of them who work in India, who look on to take detailed notes for the patient’s electronic health record.

The scribe can view the office visit through the WiFi-connected camera attached to the doctor’s glasses. The doctor can ask questions, such as when the patient had his or her last physical or the results of past lab tests, and the scribe can answer with the information that appears in a text bubble display in the corner of the doctor’s field of vision.

Researchers also use Google Glass as a tool for sharing real-time treatment data.

And what may be the biggest irony, developers say the latest technology may help restore the patient-physician relationship that has suffered as doctors’ rely on computers to document their care during office visits.

Doctors turn to Google Glass to escape the burden of spending much of a patient visit, and several hours later, typing information into the EHR, the Post said. “I can look my patients in the eye again,” Teresa Nauenberg, M.D., a primary care physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who has been using the technology for two years, told the newspaper.

Augmedix, the San Francisco-based start-up company that distributes the Google Glass technology, charges doctors between $1,500 and $4,000 a month for the service, according to the report.

As the technology evolves, the high-tech glasses could someday be as small as a contact lens, according to the newspaper. And its uses will go beyond a transcription tool, to help provide doctors with instantaneous information to help them make medical decisions. The developers of the technology envision a day when those human scribes are replaced by artificial intelligence software that can transcribe an office visit in real time.

Beyond that, the software could compare the patient’s medical issues with those of millions of other people and then predict what treatments may work best, the newspaper said.