What will Google Glass do for health?
June 3, 2013 in Medical Technology
It’s probably the most anticipated and potentially transformative new gadget since the smartphone. But unlike the iPhone, Google Glass has also been heralded with a healthy dose of controversy.
Although few folks have yet managed to get their mitts on a pair, lots of people have some pretty passionate ideas about what the technology – which enables hands-free Web and camera access – will mean, for healthcare and society at large.
Earlier this year, Google put out the call “Explorers” who might be willing to test out prototypes of the device. Interested folks were encouraged to head to Twitter and Google+ and say what they’d do if they were lucky enough to get a pair in advance, appending the hash tag #ifihadglass.
The winners were famous and infamous (Neil Patrick Harris, Newt Gingrich, Soulja Boy). Responses ranged from “id travel around the world and film the experience” to “I would help push the limits on #AugmentedReality in #hollywood.“
Unsurprisingly, healthcare and wellness figured into many potential users’ plans. “I’d use it to revolutionize healthcare. Imagine images filing directly to EMR charts and dictation on the fly all from Glass,” wrote one entrant. “I would get into Telemedicine,” wrote another.
Daniel Kraft, MD, executive director, of FutureMed and the medicine track chair at Singularity University, was expecting his Google Glass any day when he spoke with Healthcare IT News earlier this spring. He was already bursting with ideas.
“The first time I tried a pair on, wearing them for an hour or two gave a new level of appreciation for how you could integrate information into your data feed,” said Kraft. “And when you can hone that through voice commands and take photos it immediately had clear applications for use across medicine.”
A surgeon in the OR can use Google Glass to see a checklist and images from his patients, for instance, or share the view he has with another surgeon to figure out a case. Or the specs could be used “for an anesthesiologist to pull up vital signs that would ordinarily be on monitors,” said Kraft. “Someone on their rounds could have a patient’s chart pop up.
“I think there will be a lot of information we can’t predict yet,” he said, pointing out that the iPhone and the Android far exceeded even the most Polyannaish predictions for their usefulness, becoming “innovation platforms with thousands of apps, some of which we never would have guessed.”
But could Google Glass ever be as ubiquitous as the smartphone?