Hospitals and clinics all around the U.S. may soon be getting augmented with the use of Google Glass. The initiative is spearheaded by a number of ventures such as Drchrono, a start-up from Mountain View which specializes in electronic medical records. The company has developed a new app for the device, allowing physicians to record their interactions with patients. They have dubbed it the “first wearable health record.” FoxBusiness states the app arose from the growing demand for Google Glass among many healthcare professionals.
The use of technology for medical recording has already been doing away with lengthy and mundane paperwork in many hospitals and clinics. Both desktop computers and portable gadgets, such as the iPad, have been significantly speeding up the recording, sharing and looking up information. However, the new Google Glass App has the added advantage of being entirely hands free, and always seeing what the physician sees. The wearer will be able to easily record videos or take photos and automatically store them together with all the other relevant patient information. The records would be stored on Box Inc.’s cloud servers, thus accessible from any other machine on the network and even by the patients themselves. Drchrono developers worked closely both with Box and Glass teams to create the app.
Naturally, the use of this technology requires the consent of patients. Dr. Bill J. Metaxas, a podiatrist from San Francisco who employs Glass during operations and consultations, stated that 99 percent of all his patients had no qualms about the new technology. However, he is one of few professions who adopted the Glass thus far, stating it is only really used by the “bleeding edge” pediatricians at this time. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, electronic medical records are used by some 60,000 registered physicians in the U.S., and over 300 of them are relying on the app.
Drchrono is not the only company trying to find a good use of Google Glass in hospitals and clinics around the country, however. Missy Krasner, a former Google Health employee, explained that she is aware of at least 20 other venture-backed startups pushing similar innovations. Most of the other available apps are also complying with HIPAA, the federal regulations for protecting privacy of patients.
Google Glass has been criticized by numerous tech and economic analysts. Forbes writer Gene Marks called it a “creepy gimmick,” commenting on its poor design, bad timing and wrong market. This past Thursday, The Daily Show also took a stab at the new gizmo, pointing out the ridiculousness of attempting to be an interface between the wearer and the real world.
However, perhaps it is exactly the criticism such as this that points out where the new technology will truly shine, not as an everyday wearable accessory but a specialized instrument for collecting and reviewing data. Google Glass could go beyond its use in hospitals and find itself invaluable in any scientific community. The easy and hands-free ability to record videos and photos would help immensely with tracking experimental and lab data. It could also be used by the police to record first-hand accounts of incidents for review in future court cases. Practical and industrial benefits of Google’s latest invention could overshadow the casual day-to-day use the company has been trying to advertise.
By Jakub Kasztalski