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Google Glass Making Headway in Operating Rooms
Wearable Tech World News Feed
July 17, 2014
Google Glass Making Headway in Operating Rooms
By Casey Houser
Contributing Writer

Google (News - Alert) Glass is ending up in as many laymen hands as it is professionals, and in particular, finding welcome in the company of surgeons who are looking to provide an extended level of care for their patients inside operating rooms.

A recent article at The Bulletin speaks of surgeons participating in the test group, Glass Explorers, a group that initially contained approximately 8,000 surgeons -- some who are members of the American College of Surgeons.

The Bulletin says that the surgeons are finding novel ways of incorporating Glass into operating procedures by allowing them to connect with individuals outside the room in times of trouble. Specifically, it mentions how, if a surgeon encountered something unexpected in an operating room, he or she could simply speak the command "record video" and have Glass transmit video of the situation to a remotely-located expert.

It also has the potential to allow surgeons to view documents virtually while they are in the operating room. For instance, if they want to view an X-ray or consult an electronic medical chart, Glass can allow them to connect to cloud servers that contain such patient information.

Joseph Sakran, MD, MPH, assistant professor of surgery and director of global health and disaster preparedness, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, spoke about this method of viewing documents in the Bulletin article.

"One of the ways I have used Google Glass is by taking images, uploading them into the device, and then allowing these images, such as [computed tomography] scans, to be available," Sakran said. "Google Glass is beneficial in this way because I don't have to move my concentration away from the patient."

It is that ability for surgeons to remain focused on their patients that Google brings to the table. It is non-invasive and hand-free, so any doctor can continue to see with his or her entire range of vision and can simple utilize voice commands to make use of the device that's resting on his or her nose.

Despite its obvious advantages, though, Glass does not come without its problems, the largest of which is the issue of patient privacy. Heather Evans, MD, MS, FACS, assistant professor of surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, spoke about the concern of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act advocates.

"Typically, after the initial 'Wow--this is so cool' reaction to Glass, surgeons will quickly ask what is being done regarding patient privacy and security," Evans said. "It is important to remember that the device is like a traditional camera or any other recording device."

This makes it necessary for surgeons to require video recording consent forms from patients. It also means that surgeons are responsible for encrypting video or other sensitive information before they send it through a Wi-Fi or cellular network.

Of course, surgeons are also finding limitations with regard to Glass's battery life, video resolution, Wi-Fi connectivity, and voice recognition. It could always be better, they say. For now, though, the device is making headway in the operating room, and what it is offering could help save patient’s lives and greatly improve the collective standard of care.

Google will be present at the Wearable Technology Expo alongside hundreds of other companies. It is scheduled to take place July 23 - 24 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Keynote speakers will include company representatives from Pebble, Deloitte, DCI-Artform, Qualcomm (News - Alert), Pivothead, and the Consumer Electronics Organization.

Want to learn more about the latest in wearable technology? Be sure to attend Wearable Tech Expo, July 23 & 24 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.  Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Adam Brandt

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