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TECHNOLOGY

How Google Glass is changing the medical profession

Imagine this scenario. A physician completes a medical examination and begins to give the patient detailed instructions for maintaining his health. However, the doctor senses the patient isn’t absorbing the information. So the physician dons his special eyewear, which, with a push of a button, allows him to create a video that can immediately be emailed to the patient. When the patient gets home, he can review the video as many times as necessary to make sure he doesn’t miss anything.

Sounds futuristic, doesn’t it? Well, the future is here, and the product is Google Glass.

Wearable computer

Not a techie? Not a problem. Because Google Glass looks so different, people typically have numerous questions about the technology. What exactly does it do, and why use it?

Basically, Glass, as it is known for short, is a computer that features many of the same capabilities as any computer, tablet or smartphone. The two main differences are that it is wearable and hands free. These are important features for some settings, like a medical environment.

Indeed, proponents of Glass believe it has the ability to change telemedicine. Streaming video, for example, allows for emergency consultations that have the potential to be lifesaving. Streaming live surgical procedures, meanwhile, take medical student training to a whole new level.

The up-close-and-personal aspect of Glass and apps designed especially for the medical environment combine to create a dynamic healthcare tool.

Apps make it adaptable

The app EyeSight, created by Austin-based startup Pristine, for example, allows for video collaboration using Glass.

Although EyeSight is still relatively new, the app has been undergoing trial in various environments in order to test its functionality. “We have deployed EyeSight in ERs, ORs, ICUs, ambulances, and even patients’ homes,” says Kyle Samani, CEO and co-founder of Pristine.

There’s little doubt that the technology has the power to awe, if not inspire. However, questions frequently arise with regard to security. It’s an issue Pristine recognizes. “We understand that security is paramount,” says Samani. “There is a lot of misinformation about Glass and privacy out in the wild; we have gone the extra mile to guarantee security and control for our clients.”

Another app, this one designed by Kareo, a provider of medical office software and services, focuses on patient education. It is the app that allows a physician to record a meeting with a patient and send him the video via email, as described earlier.

“Studies show the majority of patients do not recall specific instructions given by their provider within minutes of the encounter. This can impact their health, lead to readmissions, and increased costs,” says Dr. Tom Guiannuli, chief medical information officer of Kareo.

Not only does the technology result in better care for the patient, it saves time for healthcare providers. Patients no longer have to call the doctor’s office for additional information – or the same information; as a result, physicians, medical office staff, and pharmacists can focus their resources elsewhere.

And these are only two examples of apps. Other apps allow for transfer of spoken information directly to patients’ electronic records, physicians’ visual retrieval of patient medical records, and more.

Why go high-tech

Much has been written about the high cost of Google Glass, which currently sells for $1,500. Be that as it may, it’s worth noting that $1,500 is a bargain compared to most other medical equipment. And, when used with the appropriate apps, Glass qualifies as medical equipment.

Needless to say, technology has already revolutionized the healthcare industry. Now, when wearing Glass, medical professionals have begun to glimpse new, unexpected possibilities for computer technology to intersect with patient care, recordkeeping, medical student training, and more.

What does the future hold? Obviously, no one knows for sure. But, for the time being, medical professionals and healthcare vendors are setting their sights on Google Glass.

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