Thursday, May 1, 2014

Google Glass is Making Waves in This Hospital

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This post was authored by @MikeMadarasz of the Institute for International Research 

It’s possible the next “glasshole” you come across could be in the emergency room.  Previously, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has been involved in a pilot that CIO John Halamka says will improve the “safety, quality and efficiency of patient care” in hospitals.  That pilot, however, is not based on any kind of breakthrough medication.  The hospital has been working with startup Wearable Intelligence over the last four months to experiment with the usage of Google Glass in their Emergency Department. 

While many are predicting mobile health as the future in healthcare, this concept takes that technology a step further.  The current process at Beth Israel has physicians glance at QR codes placed on the wall upon entering the room.  Glass recognizes the room through this code and is consequently able display information on the patient such as vital signs and lab results among other things.  The physician is able re-organize and scroll through the data based on voice commands and the direction he or she looks in.  This is a big factor in something Halamka refers to as “clinician usability” by allowing the user to keep both hands. He says these doctors must stay visually engaged while also completing tasks with their hands.   

Doctors may soon be trading in those
prescription glasses for a digital pair
The first impressions on this test run? They’re good. 

“I believe that wearable tech enables providers to deliver better clinical care by supporting them with contextually-relevant data and decision support wisdom,” says Halamka.  Another ED physician, Steve Horng, agrees.  Horng credits glass with helping to expedite the collection of medical data—something critical in an ER setting.  “As a wearable device that is always on and ready, it has remarkably streamlined clinical workflows that involve information gathering” he explains.  

It didn’t take long to prove this benefit.  Horng was recently called to treat a patient having an emergency allergic reaction.  The patient, unable to recall the exact medication he had taken, was suffering a massive brain bleed.  “We must often assess and mitigate life threats before having fully reviewed a patient’s previous history” says Horng.  “Google Glass enabled me to view this patient’s allergy information and current medication regimen without having to excuse myself to login to a computer, or even loose eye contact. It turned out that he was also on blood thinners that needed to be emergently reversed. By having this information readily available at the bedside, we were able to quickly start both antihypertensive therapy and reversal medications for his blood thinners, treatments that if delayed could lead to permanent disability and even death.”    

Beth Israels beta test lasted four months and involved the use of four devices among ten doctors.  The hospital has employed the product to several clinical providers in the ED.  Halamka says he looks forward to reporting on further about the experience. Stay tuned.


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