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Technology in Medicine: A Google Glass Generation

By: Erica Lee

Futuristic Google Glass may soon become a valuable tool for health professionals.  The augmented-reality device, which consists of a thin wire frame and small heads-up display, can record video, search the internet and share this content on many different platforms.  Google’s #IfIHadGlass campaign prompted entrepreneurs, innovators  and the average Google user alike to envision various uses for Glass in the medical field.

Photo credit: tedeytan / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: tedeytan / Foter / CC BY-SA

Many Glass Explorers imagined the device helping doctors care for their patients.  Developers sent one of the first pairs of Google Glass to a Dr. David Moriarty, who suggested using Google Glass to record data for clinical trials.  While interviewing a patient, Glass would allow a physician to forgo physically taking notes in favor of having a more natural conversation with the patient.  The attending physician could set Glass to record and transcribe the conversation fto review later or send to the patient,  a specialist or colleague for discussion.  Dr. Chris Rangel, an internal medical physician, also suggests using Glass to review a patient’s record during an examination.  Using Glass, the physician could vocally update the patient’s record; vocal commands are a faster and more natural process than typing the information into a computer.  Once the patient is diagnosed, a doctor or pharmacist could use Glass to double-check if the medicine prescribed and its dosage would be appropriate for the patient.

Healthcare professionals could also use Glass to easily archive this video footage to track each patient’s progress.  Physical therapists could track their patients’ growing range of mobility, and dermatologists could easily access a visual record of a patient’s responses to different treatments over time.

While Glass will prove to be endlessly useful in the medical field, I can’t imagine that it will be an easy transition.  Google claims the consumer price will be “below $1500,” the current price for the explorer version.  The sheer expense for buying Google Glass for each physician practicing in a hospital might raise cries of excess.  Patients might see Glass as a frivolity for the doctors’ convenience instead of using that money to fund their own care.  Along with the recent privacy concerns surrounding Glass, it may take a few years for the public to get used to the idea.

Google Glass will have countless other uses in every field of healthcare.  If Glass’s developers have their way, Google Glass will become as ubiquitous in hospitals and clinics as lab coats and stethoscopes.