Boston Hospital becomes first to use Google Glass in the emergency room

A Boston-based hospital is the first in the country to take Google Glass into the ER. The pilot program, started by Dr. Steven Horng at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has now expanded to the entire emergency department.

Horng says the emergency department is the perfect place for wearable devices like Google Glass.

“The emergency room is an interesting place,” Horng said. “It’s a really information intensive place where even a small piece of information can make a large difference in a patient’s care.”

Glass allows doctors to search medical files and records on the spot, cutting time between admittance and treatment for the patient. Horng said Glass has made a huge difference in patient care.

“When we see patients, you know, you talk to patient, go back to the computer, talk to the patient some more and go back to the computer, and then maybe you see some more patients,” Horng said. “So what this does is it allows [you] to go from patient to patient to patient without having to go back to the computer, because we are using the computer while talking with the patient.”

In order to access data specific to each patient, doctors scan a QR code posted outside each patient’s room, allowing the doctor to pull up patient history, triage notes and other information. Glass allows the doctor to have access to files of information – all hands-free at the patients bedside. Horng said the device has improved his doctor-patient interaction.

“I think it also improves the patient-physician communication. In our interactions, in our ability to connect with patients,” Horng said.

Horng notes that while some may have privacy concerns associated with wearable devices in medicine, he has only seen positive responses from his patients.

“No patient has yet objected to us using it. If anything, they are really intrigued, they’re like, ‘What’s that on your face?'” Horng noted. “More importantly, they are appreciative that we do not have to interrupt our conversation. They can say, ‘Oh I am on this medication,’ and I’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re on metoprolol,’ and they’ll ask, ‘Oh, did you read that off your little screen?’ And I’ll say, ‘Yes.'”

Although popular among patients, the device has received some push back from fellow doctors.

“There are some doctors that think it might be a little too distracting, or are just intimidated by the technology and having to learn something new,” Dr. Terrance Lee, also of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said.

Horng says the next step is to take full advantage of the wearable technology, moving beyond information-sharing to operational functionality – using Glass to order medications, schedule follow ups and contact other physicians.

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