It can be difficult to get a Physician to evaluate a nursing home patient within a short period of time, and often patients are then sent to the local Emergency Room to get a costly evaluation when what they really needed was to see a primary care physician. A nurse at the skilled nursing facility could use Glass to communicate with an offsite Physician and do a comprehensive physical exam and evaluation in real time using Glass’s streaming capability–giving faster care to the patient and potentially avoiding a costly Emergency Room visit.
In rural areas, it can be difficult to find specialty care and even more difficult to find primary care. Traditionally, mobile clinics have required you to bring a laptop, have a Wi-Fi connection, and then start screening patients who are then eventually sent to a specialist for further evaluation and care. Now all you need to set up your own mobile clinic is Google Glass connected to your cell phone. You can easily record videos and take pictures. The best part is you can call a consult during your mobile clinic and use Glass to stream video to a Physician if you have any questions or concerns.
How Google Glass won’t be used in medicine
You’ll get patient complaints if you are actively using Glass while a patient is talking
Glass is not going to be used by a primary care provider while they talk to their patient. When you use Glass, it’s painfully obvious–your eye deviates to the upper right visual fields, and you lose any type of eye contact with a patient. I have read how people are proposing that Glass can be used by primary care providers while they talk to their patient to look up their patient’s information concurrently while maintaining a conversation. This isn’t going to happen. The only way Glass could be used in the primary care setting would be if the Physician wanted to take pictures of the patient’s pathology, or if the Physician wanted to live stream a consultation.
It would be more appropriate for a Physician to have a laptop out in front of them to look up their patient’s information than to use Glass while they are talking to a patient.
It’s crucial to know how distracted you look when using Glass. When you’re using the audio and touch prompts, it gives a look of you being in your own world. If a patient is giving you their HPI, and you are scrolling through Glass, you can guarantee yourself patient complaints. I would argue the best patient edict is to hang Glass around your neck when talking to a patient.
Streaming lab values and vital signs are overplayed
I’ve read how Glass will be used to view lab values and vital signs — all displayed on your Glass screen. Let’s start with lab values. Having lab values streamed to Glass is not useful since we often don’t care about spot lab values. What we want are trends. For example, if your Hb is 10, I only care if it was 13 a week ago. If it was 10 the week before, then I’m not as worried. Trying to display trends of lab values would be too much for the display screen on Glass. The same concept can be applied to vital signs. We often don’t care about spot vital signs — trends are what we care about.
For those not in medicine, hands free might not seem like a big deal–it is. Hands free is the secret sauce of why Google Glass has the potential to thrive in medicine.
I was stunned at how nurses, surgeons, and basically everyone that I worked with gravitated towards Glass when I was in the hospital. The first thing they said when they put on the device was how clear the display was. Surgeons kept dreaming up ways they could use it in the OR, while nursing even had suggestions on how they could use it for triage.
Everyone agreed on one thing, though. The Future is Glass, and it has arrived. It’s up to us to figure out how to use it and develop for it. It’s time I get back to working on my ideas.