Dr. Steven Horng of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has technology to thank for saving a recent patient’s life: When it came to accessing a patient’s file, bulky paper was no match for the agility of Google Glass.
Horng’s reliance on Glass, which helped him to quickly find which medications his patient was allergic to, is part of a larger pilot program he instituted at the hospital. Each morning, when emergency department staff arrives they’ll put on the futuristic eyewear just like they would their scrubs. The overall goal is to acclimate hospital employees to the experience of interacting with the technology, which medical personnel have been quick to adopt for its data-keeping capabilities.
Horng, who also holds degrees in computer science and biomedical informatics (basically, how to use information along with technology in the best way possible), told The Boston Globe that Glass has enabled him to be a better bedside physician as well. “Rather than having to excuse myself,” he said, “it means I can quickly access that information without having to interrupt the patient, lose eye contact, or even leave the room.”
Glass has also been used to take pictures and record instructional videos, send files between wearers on-staff, and conduct tests with patients to assess their health. Current versions aren’t in stock, however. They run on an Android-based platform designed by a company called Wearable Intelligence, which equips the glasses with features specific to hospital settings, including limited Wi-Fi access, medical dictionaries in place of speech recognition, and total restrictions on social media use.
But then again, do doctors really need to be tweeting photos of their patients? The man allergic to his own medication would probably say, “No.”