How Google Glass Is Streamlining Emergency Room Care

Google Glass in ER

At $1,500 apiece, it’s no wonder that after less than a year after its public distribution Google decided to halt commercial production of the much-hyped Google Glass. Most consumers have simply not been compelled to hand over the large sum of money for what is essentially just an ocular version of an iPhone, as high-tech as they might be. 

However, while the average person may not have much use for the gadget, Google would be best advised not to write off the Google Glass as a failure to be dropped from the company’s line of product’s. It would seem that Google in fact might have simply miscalculated its target demographic when the glasses were put to market.

Since the release of 2013’s first Google Glass prototype, major hospitals have been experimenting with the device for medical uses. The major value of Google Glass in the healthcare industry didn’t come to light until a recent study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in which the glasses were used for emergency room consultations of patients suffering from poisoning symptoms.

While treating patients, physicians would don the glasses, specially programmed to live stream video, audio and photos to toxicology experts who would then remotely assist in the diagnoses.

One of the study authors, Dr. Edward Boyer, points out that toxicology diagnoses are largely based on visual cues, as opposed to diagnostic testing. Most hospitals don’t even have an expert toxicologist on staff, so until now, toxicologists would have to rely on easily misinterpreted descriptions via phone by hospital physicians.

Dr. Peter Chai, another of the study’s authors, says:

“With a wearable device like Glass, the physician is able to turn any part of an ER into an advanced telemedicine suite without investment in bulky hardware by just walking into the room.”

Cost and investment in Google Glass is a concern, and is perhaps the only barrier preventing the device’s use from catching on in the medical field. If hospitals and physicians are up for embracing the new technology, it could prove to be an investment worth making, one that will undoubtedly save countless lives.

Samantha Hendricks
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