Google Glass is being incorporated into the medical world in several new ways. They are even being tested for dermatology consultation. QR codes are also now used to identify patients. A Boston hospital has developed their own customized information-retrieval system for doctors using Google Glass. Getting caught up on a patient’s charts is now as simple as scanning QR codes posted for each patient.
Dr. John Halamka recently made a post on his blog explaining the new technology. He is CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a title commonly given to the senior executive of information technology and computer systems.
A prototype of a new information system is in development. A bar code or QR will be placed on the wall which will correspond to vital signs, lab results, and any other data about the patient. By looking at a bar code or QR and the clinician will be able immediately pull that information up and have it easy to access in their field of vision while talking with the patient.
The Google Glass application has been used in the hospital for three months and within this month it will be available to all doctors interested in using it. Halamka added that the existing privacy safeguards were applied to Google Glass interface so there would be no data given to Google servers. “All data stays within the BIDMC firewall.” While they will not replace desktops or iPads, the real advantage is real-time notifications.
He reported that the patients showed a lot of curiosity but no concerns. He wrote, “Boston is home to many techies and a few patients asked detailed questions,” referencing the beta period when the glasses came in hunters-vest-orange. Since then, Halamka’s team has modified the Google Glasses. The changes include using external battery packs, better wireless transmission, head tilt controls vertical scrolling, they are paired with clinical iPhones, and the QR code reading application has been stabilized.
One beta tester, Dr. Steve Horng spoke highly of an experience with the Google Glass when they assisted him a patient who could not talk at length. He received an urgent page to a resuscitation bay when he was needed to aid a patient with a massive brain bleed. In order to treat the patient he needed to quickly control blood pressure to slow the bleeding. The patient was only able to communicate that he had a severe allergic reaction to a blood pressure medication, but did not know any of their names, which was all stored in the computer. Google Glass enabled Horng to view the allergy information and medications he was being treated with immediately. Much faster than leaving and logging on to a computer. He did not even lose eye contact with the patient while looking up how to help him.
Horng said it is usual for patients in distress and having that information easily accessed means treatments do not have to be delayed, which in some cases results in saving patients from permanent disability or death. Beth Israel has four doctors using Google Glass so far, along with testing at least ten other staff members. Halamka believes tablet computing will be replaced by the glasses for most clinicians who will be able to free their hands while accessing information.
By Whitney Hudson