Google Glass Already Making its Mark in Medicine

Google Glass

Google Glass has made its debut in the operating room. Image from Ohio State University.

Time will tell whether Google Glass ends up being a commercial flop. Its real potential, however, might just be in medicine. Google Glass is already making its way into operating rooms and ambulance cabs.

Recently, MedEx Ambulance Service, a company that provides transportation to hospitals and other healthcare sites in the Chicago area, acquired two pairs of Google Glass that have been tailored for a specific purpose. These specs come with installed software that is designed to transmit video and audio from the back of the ambulance to an emergency room doctor who can stream the content live on a tablet or desktop computer.

The additional eyes on a patient can help provide paramedics with diagnosis and treatment options, while doctors prepare the emergency room to receive the patient. MedEx plans to launch a test with Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago later this month, and is only one of the ways the device is being used to improve collaboration in hospitals.

At Rhode Island Hospital, doctors have begun using Google Glass to consult with off-site dermatologists for patients with various burns and skin rashes. It was with this in mind, that doctors began taking Google Glass beyond just hospital rooms and ambulance cabs, and into classrooms and medical schools around the globe.

Recently, heart Surgeon Pavan Kumar fitted the device while performing open heart surgery at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai. In addition to providing doctors and surgeons with the ability to recall specific medical information about the patient with a simple voice command, Google Glass also provides audio and video capabilities that would enable them to stream the surgery to colleagues and students in real time.

It wasn’t long before these dreams became a reality, when a UK surgeon became the first to use Google Glass to broadcast to viewers around the world. In a procedure to remove cancerous tissue from the liver and bowel of an elderly patient, the surgery was broadcast to over 13,000 surgical students in 115 different countries. The process also enabled students to pose questions directly to the surgeon, providing a groundbreaking interactive learning experience.

Not so long ago, it was only a handful of privileged students who were selected to huddle around or above the operating table, in an effort to observe critical invasive surgeries. With this new technology, doctors can teach thousands of aspiring surgeons and medical professionals directly from the operating room. Glass even provides limitless possibilities to underdeveloped areas with limited physicians and resources. Now, Google Glass can help general physicians conduct examinations and procedures through the assistance of a specialist from miles away, extending the reach of patient care to all new heights.

In an age where wearable technology is becoming a household term, Google Glass continues to push the boundaries of possibility, specifically in the field of medicine. And while Glass isn’t Google’s first venture into medicine, it certainly stands to have the most immediate impact. So while you may not see any Google specs on the street in the near future, keep an eye out for them at your next doctor visit, because there certainly could be an unsuspecting pair of eyes on you.

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