Privacy Issues Remain Key Concern for Doctors Using Google Glass

July 25, 2014 in News

Although some health care professionals believe that Google Glass could be helpful in patient and surgery settings, patient privacy remains a core concern, The Atlantic reports.

Google Glass in the Doctor’s Office

According to The Atlantic, there has been a “rush of enthusiasm” for the device’s possible applications in health care.

Health IT vendors such as Augmedix and Pristine are selling software for Google Glass created specifically for physicians. The software includes features such as:

  • Secure input and retrieval of patient data from electronic health records;
  • Video-based communications platforms;
  • Voice-controlled checklist applications; and
  • Voice-to-text.

Some health care providers also are developing and testing applications for the device. For example, the FastTrack Innovation in Technology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital is creating “Glass Surgeon,” an application that aims to advance and streamline the surgical process.

Patient Privacy Concerns, Limitations

Meanwhile, both hospitals and consumer advocates have expressed concern about Google Glass’s place in health care.

According to The Atlantic, physicians experimenting with Google glass “are sensitive to” possible HIPAA violations.

Alexandra Pelletier, manager of the FIT program at BCH, noted, “It’s Google, which wants everything publicly available, and health care, which wants nothing publicly available.”

Some patient privacy issues that Google Glass users are dealing with include:

  • Being able to connect to hospitals’ secure wireless networks; and
  • Temporarily disabling the camera and visually displaying that there is no recording taking place.

Meanwhile, providers have cited other Google Glass limitations, such as

  • Poor camera quality;
  • Short battery life; and
  • The device’s potential to heat up over time (Viswanathan, The Atlantic, 7/21).
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