Did Google Glass really save the life of Patient in Hospital or was it just the EHR?

The Verge Doctor says Google Glass saved a mans life

I don’t question for one minute the scale of the opportunity that augmented reality (the next mass media) represents and I think it’s clear there are some great opportunities for Google Glass in emergency medicine and as a Patient aid but it’s very clear that there’s now a thriving ponzi scheme around the Google Glass technology as it has such visual impact that it appears to make it easy to bamboozle audiences with unrealistic scenarios.

This latest article claiming that Google Glass helped to save the life of a man in a hospital is typical of the fawning promotion of applications that I’m seeing being reported in the press. According to the article:

Dr. Steven Horng, working at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was wearing Glass last year while working on a man whose brain was bleeding. Dr. Horng knew that the patient was allergic to certain drugs that would arrest the bleeding, but didn’t know which ones. With no time to leave the stricken patient, Horng says he called up the man’s medical records on Google’s wearable device, found the relevant information, and stabilized his condition

In my entire life I’ve never seen a Hospital bed with a Patient in it that doesn’t have a printed Drug Card that the prescribing Healthcare Professional must sign so I have no idea why a Doctor working in a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School (that claims to be “one of the world’s leading hospitals”) is suggesting that a Doctor would have no alternative but to leave a Patient in their care to go and check for something as basic as drug allergies. I also imagine that it might also be the type of false claim that would concern Patients who aren’t being cared for by Doctors who are wearing Google Glasses eg. is Dr Horng suggesting that if your Doctor at BIDMC is not wearing these glasses on their skull they’re not able to practice safely?

In 2014 we’re at the stage where modern high quality hospitals enable the Healthcare Professional to access and make notes on a Patient’s medical records at the bedside via their iPhones, iPods and iPads eg. using apps like VitalPac:


Watching the video that’s been made showing the Google Glass in use and it reinforces my confidence that the most obvious way that this technology will start saving lives is when it starts to be worn by Patients eg. US lawyers would have such a field day if they had video recordings of Hospital Doctors attempting to treat their clients critical Brain Haemorrhage without access to their medical information that it would overnight drive 100% adoption of modern mobile accessible Healthcare Record systems:

**** UPDATE: 10 April 2014 ****

It seems like Hospitals in the USA are rushing out Google Glass in Healthcare stories this week eg. this latest video (HatTip: Mashable ‘Sick Kids Use Google Glass to Virtually Visit the Zoo’) showcases a collaboration between the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston and their neighbours at Houston Zoo. Apparently ‘sick kids, who are unable to leave the hospital’ are being given Google Glass to wear so that they can connect with zoo employees wearing Google Glass in order to “virtually “visit” the Houston Zoo”.

I’m again struggling. This use case seems to conflict with the advice given when I got Google Glass (eg. Google suggests that the device was designed to provide bursts of information in a convenient way so that the wearer can get back to doing real world things rather than as a media consumption device) and surely it would be easier for the Hospital to just get some nice TVs and Tablets that the kids could use whenever they like to watch properly edited Zoo programs (with their parents and the new friends they could be making) like the 393 Videos that are posted on the Houston Zoo Youtube channel?

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5 Responses to Did Google Glass really save the life of Patient in Hospital or was it just the EHR?

  1. Pingback: Did Google Glass really save the life of Patien...

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  4. bdtrauma says:

    I work in a large healthcare system that is currently rolling out a well-known EHR product to all 40+ hospitals in their system. You would think that a ‘mobile’ solution is standard with these systems and while they are slowly making their way into their product line we are still stuck rolling around a cart with a computer on it or going back to a desktop to seek information about a patient. Having access to information at the bedside (along with the handsfree capabilities of Glass) is a huge step in the right direction. When a patient comes into an emergency department they don’t always have information available to the provider so access to the EHR in a timely manner can be crucial. Wearable devices to aid in healthcare is in its infancy and as the technology matures we will start seeing providers spending more time with their patients and less clicking and typing on a computer. I have no doubt that when all is said and done the past few years of quickly adopting poorly integrated EHRs will show that patient care suffered and many great providers gave up on medicine and retired early. I don’t think Glass is the only answer to this problem, but the concept of ‘technology getting out of the way’ is here to stay and I’m excited to see what other solutions are coming down the pipeline.

  5. Hi bdtrauma,

    Do you have Drug Cards on your Hospital beds?

    I agree that in 2014 “You would think that a ‘mobile’ solution is standard with these systems” but the buyer is not typically an end user and the appetite amongst Clinicians for more technology to do their job on the frontline is lacking as until only very recently the bloated interfaces and burden of administrivia that has been introduced by eHealth initiatives have typically not enhanced the Doctor Patient relationship.

    From my first hand experiences using both Google Glass and the very latest tablet/smartphone Healthcare Record systems with Nuance voice control/input (you can also operate a smartphone handsfree) I think you’ll find that trying to jump straight from “a cart with a computer on it” or “a desktop” located somewhere else to a Google Glass solution is not going to be the success you might think it will be as at this stage there is a much bigger opportunity in widening access to Healthcare Records rather than making access to Patient information even more unshared and limiting it to the Doctor.

    It’s worth noting that the cost differential is quite substantial (more than x5) between iPads/iPods and Google Glass particularly when you factor in how long the battery lasts on a Google Glass (you’d probably need several Google Glass devices per Clinician per shift) but I imagine at this stage the excuse being used by laggards is no longer about the cost as it’s obviously much cheaper to use consumer tech than out of date bespoke gear.

    Although it’s sad to see legal action driving the adoption of best practice I imagine it won’t be long before we read about a US lawyer representing a Patient who has used their own Google Glass to document their experience being cared for by a Doctor who doesn’t have direct access to their healthcare records:


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