Wearable Tech World Feature Article
April 09, 2014

Google Glass Saves Lives in Hospitals

While Google Glass might look like a fun gadget to play around with, it’s also saving lives at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, according to a recent report by the Boston Globe.

“We’re doing this to prove that the technology can work and really motivate others to explore this space with us,” Dr. Steven Horng, a physician at the Boston-based hospital, told the Globe. The hospital is the first to make Google Glass a part of its regular healthcare program.

One of his patients was suffering from a brain hemorrhage, but was allergic to several medications used to control the bleeding. Even worse, the patient couldn’t remember exactly which ones. Dr. Horng would have had to look up information on drugs, but since he was equipped with Google Glass, he could do it from right where he was.

“Rather than having to excuse myself, it means I can quickly access that information without having to interrupt the patient, lose eye contact, or even leave the room,” he said.

Thanks to Glass, he was able to get the patient the correct medication to stop the bleeding.

The hospital assigns posts QR codes linked to a patient’s record on the outside of a patient’s door, which can be read by Google Glass. The Glass devices were modified by Wearable Intelligence to read the codes. Patient privacy is important with medical records so patient records are not shared with Google.

Image via Shutterstock.

In addition to patient records, doctors see Google Glass in medicine for other purposes. At the University of California-Irvine, doctors have been able to monitor surgeries by residents to see how well they’re performing. Surgeons at the Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital were able to call up a patient’s MRI scans while performing abdominal surgery. Other potential uses include live consultations between physicians, no matter where they happen to be.

Doctors appreciate its hands-free design and the ability to transmit live video. Emergency care, as demonstrated by Dr. Horng’s case, is a field where every second counts and doctors cannot afford any delay in delivering care to their patients.

“It’s literally the holy grail of hospital IT,” said John Rodley, co-founder of Twiage, a startup that allows EMTs to transmit live pictures of patients to doctors before they get to the emergency room. Doctors will be able to determine the right course of treatment before the patient even arrives.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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