Blog Post

Why Google Glass may not be ready for hospitals

October 25, 2013

    Paige Hill, Daily Briefing

    Physicians have embraced smartphones, iPads, XBoxes, and even robots in their pursuit of better, more modern health care—but don't expect them to get on the Google Glass bandwagon anytime soon, one doctor says.

    Writing in the Washington Post this week, cardiac anesthesiologist Paul Langevin explains that "Google Glass for health care will remain a concept—rather than a practice—until developers gain a better understanding of the medical environment."

    Langevin outlines the existing problems with the new technology, including:

    • A 'hands-free' system—that's not hands-free. Google Glass users must touch a sensor to interact with the Google Glass system, which seriously curtails the device's usefulness in a sterile environment.
    • The pop-up menu. The pop-up menu would provide a visual distraction for physicians. Langevin notes that it would be "useful if the system could filter what gets through" and block all but the "truly critical information."
    • Not secure enough for PHI. Google Glass is not user selective and does not require a password. As such, it would not be able to access protected patient information, such as their electronic health records.   
    • The cost. Langevin identifies the cost as "the biggest problem," because hospitals could not justify the expense.

    In the Post piece, Langevin makes a few recommendations to make the technology into a health care-friendly device. If Google Glass or an app for Glass had the capability to recognize a patient, a clinician could retrieve information immediately on the patient and their medical history.

    In addition, Google Glass will have to operate with "sufficient speed to allow near instantaneous retrieval of information that typically involves huge files such as display of an X-ray or CT scan."

    Langevin concludes that Google engineers should work with physicians to "build apps that can function in the clinical environment with all of its medical, biological, administrative and regulatory constraints." Otherwise, he writes, "Google Glass will be just another good idea that never fulfilled its potential."

    On the Advisory Board blogs

    • Care Transformation Center Blog: Bonnie Jin profiles a health network that reduced Medicare readmissions to 1.62% by employing veteran medics as transition coaches.
    • Cardiovascular Rounds: Jeffrey Rakover explains how Boston Children's Hospital uses instances of clinical variation to inform changes to its care pathways.
    • Care Transformation Center Blog: Cabell Jonas and Yulan Egan offer three tipsfor simplifying care for medically-complex children.

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