Google Glass Allows Surgeons to Multitask

Philips and Google Glass

Philips Healthcare and Accenture are developing a new way to help surgeons deliver more efficient and effective patient care using Google Glass technology.

Google Glass is wearable technology that looks like eyeglasses, but without the lenses. Instead, a small prism on the right side displays information via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection to the MyGlass app on Android or iOS devices.

Google Glass was rolled out to early adopters this year, and the company is encouraging these users to share innovative ways they use the product. Software developers are also writing new applications for Glass in a variety of fields.

Researchers from the Philips Digital Accelerator Lab—a newly formed unit tasked with rapid prototyping of new solutions—have collaborated with their colleagues from Accenture Technology Labs to explore the potential uses of Google Glass in clinical settings.

They are looking at how Google Glass can be used during surgical procedures to allow doctors to access information quickly and easily. Google Glass can connect to Philips IntelliVue Solutions to deliver the seamless transfer of a patient’s vital signs into Google Glass, for hands-free, voice controlled access to critical data.

Anthony (Tony) Jones, M.D., is the vice president and chief marketing officer for patient care and clinical informatics at Philips Healthcare. He explains, “The most exciting potential application of Google Glass in healthcare is the ability to allow providers to ‘virtually’ be in two places at once, which will have a significant impact on workflow and patient care.”

For instance, imagine a doctor or nurse is with a patient and he or she is doing a basic procedure that requires both hands. An alarm or alert is triggered in another room.

“Rather than interrupting the current procedure, the provider can use the verbal commands to call up the patient monitoring data that’s triggering the alert, Jones explains. “At that point, the provider can decide whether the alarm can wait or whether it needs immediate action.”

Similarly, bringing some of the basic vital signs info from the monitor directly into the field of vision via Google Glass allows the provider to do the procedure and view the feedback data without taking their eyes off of the patient.

“It sounds simple, but small workflow improvements like this can reduce errors and have a significant impact on patient care,” Jones says.

Brent Blum, wearable display practice lead at Accenture Technology Labs, adds, “With the proliferation of wearable devices comes a number of really exciting use cases for surgeons, anesthesiologists, first responders, ER staff, and any other healthcare professional that could benefit from access to information in a hands-free way.

“Beyond healthcare we’re exploring the impact of wearable devices on a number of other industries to help demonstrate what’s possible with this emerging technology in terms of making a mobile, hands-free workforce more productive and efficient,” Blum says.

Google Glass’ video feature was used in an actual surgery this past June when a surgeon base in Madrid used the technology to stream video of a surgery in real-time over the internet to other doctors watching in the United States. Other doctors have used the Google Glass video feature as a training tool, to allow others to see the same view they do when performing a surgery.

As with many new technologies in the healthcare industry, concerns about patient privacy and information security have been raised, but since this application is still in its infancy there should be time to iron out these issues.

Jones concludes, “Philips was inspired by the potential of exploring Google Glass in a clinical setting. Within two weeks, the [Philips and Accenture] team was able to take a mobile Android app and install it on the Glass platform.

“We’re particularly proud of the fact that our team went beyond the original challenge of mocking up a solution and actually delivered a working demonstration. We’ve been working on extending many of our applications to smartphones and tablets. We’re very excited about the opportunity to port these apps to Google Glass and work with our customers to discover novel solutions using the platform.”

Google Glass won’t be released to the consumer market until sometime next year, although the initial Explorer version of Google Glass sold for $1,500, the retail version is expected to be priced about the same as a new smartphone – in the $300 to $400 range.

This infographic by MHADegree.org gives additional information on how Google Glass could revolutionize the medical industry.

How do you envision Google Glass being used in the healthcare industry, or other industries?

Image courtesy of Philips Healthcare

About Maria Doyle

Maria Doyle is an independent communications consultant in the Boston area. She helps high tech companies with their writing, especially making complex topics more easily understood. Some of the topics she enjoys writing about include engineering and design innovation, customer success stories, and other STEM-related topics. Maria loves the fact that the industry continues to change, which keeps things interesting.
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4 Responses to Google Glass Allows Surgeons to Multitask

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