Google Glass In The Operating Room


August 26, 2013

Most people think that Google Glass is nothing more than a gimmick. However physicians have discovered amazing uses for the technology.

Cardiothoracic surgeon, Pierre Theodore, M.D. of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, recently performed surgery while wearing Google Glass.  Incredibly, he was able to alternately look down at the patient, and the patient’s medical imagery at the same time while wearing the lenses.

“I thought it was going to be a gimmick, but after using it, I became a zealot,” said Dr. Theodore.

As a result, many physicians now believe they can use Google Glass to save lives in the operating room. On August 8-9, 2013, others shared their ideas regarding the new technology during the Health Innovation Summit. They discussed the device’s camera, recording capability, microphones, and Wi-Fi chip, and concluded that it could have potential uses for the healthcare industry.

Physicians are typically reluctant to adopt new technologies: “We’re already overwhelmed by technology,” Dr. Theodore explained, showing an image of an operating room filled with wires, screens, monitors and other various devices.

However, Ian Shakil, Chief Executive of Google Glass application company, Augmedix Inc., and a veteran of Intuitive Surgical, Inc., said that “Glass” also has great potential to streamline operations outside of the operating room.

They came to the conclusion that Google, as well as the developers who are building applications for Glass, need to convince doctors that the device can replace other machines, and streamline processes that currently take more than one device to handle.

Shakil went on to say that, “We’re going to use Glass to reclaim the 25% [of the workday] that doctors spend on the computer, all of the coding, the reimbursement, all that stuff. That’s not why they went to medical school.”

He said, “Glass,” can ease some of the documentation, especially in the area of electronic health records. Studies show that the transition to electronic health records has been slow in the past, so there’s no telling how quick Google Glass will catch on.

There’s been a lot of talk about the potential for Google Glass, most recently about a partnership between Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Google Ventures to fund “Glass” developers including a partnership between Qualcomm Life and Palomar Health.

The market for Google Glass is enormous, and the panelists said if “Glass” developers can show that the eyewear is more than just another gadget, and has the potential to make communication more seamless and ideal, and then it has a good chance of catching on in the healthcare sector.  The panelists also said that Google Glass has potential to bring the physician and patient closer together, because it could eliminate the need for physicians to rummage through files and computer documents.

For technology advocates, the biggest challenge will be to convince physicians who’ve already set their own routines.

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