Google Glass, functioning as a sort of hands-free device, can help optimize medical data management…and tear down the walls of the operating theatre.

Google Glass helps surgeons in their work

Only a few months after its beta version release, Google Glass has already penetrated the medical world. Even though it has generated heated debates and one could dub it as a futuristic gadget, its use could generate innovative applications for doctors. According to a recent survey by California-based Health IT company Augmedix it seems that patients are ready as wel as 98%of the people polled had no objection to their doctor using Google Glass. Now in fact a number of surgeons have actually been using this wearable device accessory during delicate operations. It has been shown in practice that these smart glasses not only facilitate remote collaboration between medical staff during difficult operations but enable them to stream this practical demonstration to students, connecting classrooms directly with the operating theatre.

Opening up the operating theatre

Operations have recently taken place in the United States and Spainwhere the surgeon used Google Glass. Recently the Ohio State University Medical Center conducted an open surgical operation, linking the operating theatre to a group of medical students and medical staff through the smart glasses worn by the chief surgeon. The glasses provide a direct surgeon’s-eye view of what he is doing, which means that he can call on the assistance of a consultant or colleague specializing in that specific field who is remotely following the operation on a continuous basis and receive much more detailed advice. In addition, the whole operation can be filmed and streamed live over the Internet to medical students around the world. During an operation filmed in Spain in June, students from Stanford University in the United States were able to monitor the operation and also interact with the surgeon, Dr Pedro Guillén, in order to gain a better understanding of the techniques he was using. Dr Guillén enthused that Google Glass could potentially serve as a “common university for medical schools around the world.”

AR surgery and sophisticated record-keeping?

The potential uses of Google Glass go beyond facilitating real-time communication between surgeons, consultants and students. Soon health practitioners will be able to retrieve patients’ medical files and call up such diagnostic data as X-rays, heart rate, MRI scans, etc. Such efficient data management would avoid interruptions during operations and increase the amount of information a surgeon would have at his/her disposal while operating. Developers have already come up with the MedRef for Glass app, which allows doctors and healthcare staff to create, update and consult medical records in a hands-free manner, based on facial recognition. In an era when masses of vital patient data are constantly being garnered, but there is as yet no sophisticated sharing and archiving system in existence, Google Glass has the potential to process the constant information flows. In addition to taking the operating theatre to a new dimension, these connected specs could well serve to streamline all those administrative tasks which today on average take up over 25% of a hospital doctor’s time.



By Thomas Meyer
Journalist, Business Analyst