Should hospitals explore Google Glass now?
We have been Google Glass Explorers (as early adopters are called) for several months now. We extended enki EHRto Google Glass – to provide basic medical information such as patient’s name, basic demographics, vitals, medications, allergies and endoscopy images. We did the pilot primarily to explore and understand how it would feel to use Glass in a clinical environment. We demoed this prototype at FutureMed 2013 (now called Exponential Medicine).
At the outset, Glass is futuristic and feels very, very cool in a medical setting. Sooner or later, physicians will see patients without being occupied with a computer. But as a hardware with accompanying Glassware (what its software is called), it has its share of teething problems. The hardware heats up when a lot of data is exchanged. The software SDK is not simple enough to work with. There are several important features that are missing. However, it’s still very important for the medical community to explore how it may be used.
We are having early conversations with health systems where the discussions are usually about finding the right longterm use cases. The question that senior management at hospitals must ask themselves is actually whether they would like to experiment with wearable computers at this point or not. Every technology breakthrough occurs through a series of failed and successful experiments – at the end of which, the organization/ team can establish a strong point of view based on what they have experienced. This allows them to build the future.
For example, Google Glass may not be ready for a full-fledged rollout in the stage that it is – it’s at best suitable for a prototype amongst early adopters within a single department of a hospital. But the fact is the hardware will improve and may be within a year, it will get to a point where it becomes solidly reliable for a full-fledged rollout. But for a hospital to be ready for such a rollout, it must be willing to experiment today and be willing fail – so that it can succeed when and where it matters – in defining the future of healthcare delivery.
By Praveen Suthrum, President & Co-Founder, NextServices