Google's Project Glass and the Future of Medicine

Physician Talking to Patient There is no doubt that Google’s Project Glass will literally and figuratively change the way we view the world. In case you are unfamiliar with the concept, you can view this Project Glass video or read about Project Glass here.

Today we’d like to take a moment and think about what “Google Glass(es)” (as it’s also called) could mean for the practice of medicine. Guiding our post today is an excellent article on the topic from Health IT Exchange. So, how could Project Glass interact with medicine? The article talks about the current Project Glass prototype being combined with other existing technologies, to make for some stunning possibilities.

Delivery of Information. Wouldn’t it be amazing if physicians could get information when they needed it, without having to ask, search for it or wait for someone else to produce it? The article discusses the very real possibilities of having a patient’s vital signs projected on the glasses during a surgery and name, lab results and other relevant information being displayed as a physician enters a patient’s room during rounds.

Reduction of Information Overload and Increased Efficiency. Working off of “Delivery of Information” above, it could further be imagined that Project Glass could eliminate information overload and alert fatigue by presenting only patient-relevant information while with each patient. In short, many distractions could be eliminated by Google Glasses by allowing physicians to become better organized and having their information prioritized.

Notes into the Medical Record. If Google Glass was combined with natural language processing (the ability of a computer to understand human language), it could make entering notes into the patient’s electronic medical record a breeze –no need for a keyboard or transcription.

Clearly, we have already seen the major impact that other mobile devices, like iPads and smartphones, have had on medicine –both improving it, by streamlining doctor-patient communication and note-taking, for example, and serving as a serious distraction that creates risk exposure.

Thus, with any sort of new medical device, along with the positives, we would love a clear-cut list of the negatives –the medical risks. But, of course, no such list exists and only time will tell how Google Glass could present new risks for physicians. Stay tuned –we’ll be writing about it.

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