Monday, August 26, 2013

Google Glass might save your life

Health care and emergency medicine are topping the list of ways people hope to improve their work with Google Glass.

Imagine an emergency medical professional arriving on the scene of a terrible car accident. He’s running, lugging equipment, assessing the crisis to get to injured passengers. Without interrupting his standard and precise routine, he’s already sending images to emergency doctors and hospital staff. Based on that sharing of information, he can listen to a physician—located just about anywhere—talk him through any sensitive care procedures appropriate for that moment. The emergency medical professional never has to pick up a camera or put a phone to his ear. His hands are free to save lives. As this is going on, nurses and emergency room staff get notification to prepare for a patient to arrive by ambulance, with a clear understanding of the patient’s condition.

Even for more routine medical care, not a crash scene, doctors are testing ways to improve patient care with Google Glass, and specialized apps are in development for physicians. Doctors capturing images and sharing information? How could that possibly comply with strict HIPAA laws around health information privacy? One physician who used Google Glass during actual surgery got consent first, and then, while wearing Glass, he gave full attention to his patient and the procedure. He proved that live monitoring could be done. “Specifically for surgery, this could allow better intra-operative consultations, surgical mentoring and potential remote medical education, in a very simple way,” the surgeon explained. He did it without showing the patient’s face or revealing personal health information. (And, software developers are tackling the privacy issue to take away that problem in the future).

Forget the ER or OR. How can Glass help a person on the street? An app in development would talk you through CPR if you find yourself in a situation to help someone having a heart attack. The technology of Glass with interactive instruction seems almost too easy. Glass’s camera would detect the strength of the person’s pulse. Then music would start—“Staying Alive,” which offers exactly the right pace for chest compression. The gyroscope in Glass would determine whether compressions are adequate. While all this is going on, Glass would call 911 for you with your GPS location and also send a message to the nearest hospital to be prepared.

That’s impressive, but that’s not all. Glass could live-stream the resuscitation effort to medical professionals from the point of view of the person administering CPR, and they could provide that person coaching and direction until help arrives.

And then, it’s only a matter of time perhaps before all hospital staff would be wearing Glass, too, for information exchange and notification. For the rest of us, doing perhaps less intense daily work, we can consider that the same technology that makes such a difference at a hospital will be in our own hands at minimal cost. What will you do with Google Glass at work? 

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