I was recently asked these three questions, by Dr. Jennifer M. Joe, of Mestro.com and Editor-in-Chief of MedtechBoston.com, in regards to the convergence of GoogleGlass and Medicine.
–What will be the top 5 mistakes that physicians/clinicians will have about Google Glass?
–What are the top 5 fields who will benefit from Google Glass? Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Dermatology, and Neurology?
–What will be the top 5 biggest hurdles in getting Google Glass into the clinical setting?
Obviously, I’m not able to exactly predict the future, but I feel that my experience of several years as a surgeon and of a few years as an innovator in healthcare and, more recently, as a GoogleGlass Explorer might give me some extra advantage as well as insight to be able to come up with interesting thoughts, arising from EXPERIENCE and INTUITION.
A- What will be the top 5 mistakes-misconceptions that physicians/clinicians will have about Google Glass?
I believe that in the initial phases, as Glass is publicly released, many healthcare providers will purchase it; the interest and curiosity about the device will be based on the reports of medical peers, GoogleGlass Explorers, after several months of experience with it, along with the spectacular and exciting coverage and spread by the media.
1-I think that one of the most common mistakes that I can foresee, is that most users will assume that the device has connectivity of its own.It does not! It needs a wifi network to connect to, or a smartphone that it can tether to, in order to have internet capabilities.
2-Another issue, will be related to its inappropriate use regarding privacy regulations and HIPAA.To use this device in the clinical setting (with patients), the device needs, or should be,”cleared” by your institution’s compliance office, but ONLY when there will be transmission of patient’s data through the device, through the internet. If the device is being used during a visit, for instance, to look up information related to the patient’s condition in the internet, or to help explain a subject to a patient, using a digital resource, or in any way that does not involve patient’s Private Health Information (PHI), there should be no concerns about HIPAA compliance.
3-The device is not fully functional with only voice commands. It does need the “tap or swipe” on the right frame, to navigate certain menus; this makes it unsuitable, at least in an efficient manner, for use when the user’s hands need to remain sterile.
4- The screen on the device is the equivalent of a 28″ screen seen from approximately 6-8 ft away; despite this, the content display allowance on the screen is in no way the same to what you can fit on an equivalent “non-Glass” display.
5-The battery life of the device is very limited, and if used continuously, the charge would likely not last much more than an hour or two, almost always requiring an additional, external, portable power supply.
B- What are the top 5 fields who will benefit from Google Glass? Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Dermatology, and Neurology?
I think that “procedural” specialties (Emergency, Surgery, EMS), as well as those that rely heavily in the direct observation and “inspection” of the patient and the gathering of visual data to make a diagnosis (Radiology, Psychiatry, Neurology) will be the ones that will initially benefit from this type of device. After the device evolves, and eventually presents itself as the next step in the evolution of the computing platform to connect us to the digital realm, any medical specialty will integrate it as part of the routine, just as we now have PC’s, laptops, tablets, etc.
C- What will be the top 5 biggest hurdles in getting Google Glass into the clinical setting?
1-I believe that the protection of Private Health Information (PHI) and compliance with HIPAA are at this point the main obstacles being faced by GoogleGlass incorporation into the clinical setting (at least in the USA). There are developers working on this topic, and also some who have come up with solutions which are currently being tested in different locations.
2-Integration with the Electronic Medical record (EMR) is a feature that must be accomplished, if GoogleGlass is to be useful in the current setting of Healthcare. The device needs to be an extension of the current platforms that we routinely use, running the same EMR software or at least agnostically conversing with it.
3-Cost has to come down for it to be universally adopted as a new platform, likely substituting the smartphone in the near future. The price would have to be competitive with the cost of current portable devices.
4-There will have to be a change of “culture”, in the side of both the providers and the patients. This will naturally happen, as it did with the smartphones and tablets.
5- The network infrastructure will have to be enhanced. The bandwidth of current cellular and wifi networks, does not allow an optimal transmission of data.Dedicated networks will have to be developed so that medical users can have priority channels to allow connectivity without delays, flaws or intrusiveness.
I think that for now, these are my few thoughts regarding these very interesting questions; I hope this helps.
Please don’t forget to connect with me via Twitter at @ZGJR, or to visit the blog for further follow up comments or inquiries regarding this topic or the general theme of Innovation Technology in Healthcare.
As always, I’m very interested in spreading this information and my vision for the use of GoogleGlass in Healthcare, as well as conversing about what the future of technology in medicine will be like.
Always looking for speaking engagements and platforms.
Rafael Grossmann, MD, FACS