Since its release as part of the Explorers program, we’ve seen a number of uses of Google Glass in healthcare. Applications have been widely varied, such as use for rapid diagnostic testing and triage in the field.

A group of cardiologists recently described their use of Google Glass during a procedure to percutaneously close a patent foramen ovale (PFO). PFO’s are found in as many as 25% of adults, though their clinical significance is debated. Consequently, the indications for PFO closure are rather limited.

Unlike say typical coronary angiography, PFO closure is a far less common procedure with experience generally concentrated in the hands of sub-sub-specialized physicians. With that in mind, the potential use case here for Glass should be fairly apparent.

Dr. Assad-Kottner et al reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology their use of Glass during a PFO closure in which the audio & video were streamed to a remote structural heart disease expert (the above described specialist). Details are sparse on how this was done but they do note a point during the procedure where the mentor helped manage a potential complication (thrombus on the delivery sheath).

While this experience does not justify broad declarations about the utility of Glass in healthcare, it does serve as a useful example of one potential use case that should be explored further.

A number of “routine” procedures are now performed in outpatient surgery centers. In cardiology, cardiac catheterization is being widely expanded with relaxing requirements about surgical backup. Complications will happen and the ability to obtain on-demand support for management could be quite useful.

Creating a system in which such support is actually available “on-demand” will be far more tricky when it comes to the type of individual who served as the “mentor” for the PFO closure described. On the other hand, device companies many be better positioned to provide that type of intra-procedural support for questions related to their prosthesis, wires, and so on (a service that on-site reps generally provide now).

Another point to keep in mind is that despite the years and years of training, newly independent physicians are often in need of mentorship. Whether a resident who did the minimum number of supervised central lines or a recent graduate of a neurosurgery training program, there are invariably situations that will be later encountered for the first time. Tools like Glass may be able to help extend the educational reach of highly experienced surgeons, proceduralists, and clinicians. This capability can even be helpful for more common procedures like central line placement.