Technology, IT Infrastructure, Mobility

Google Glass or facsimile has role when critical info is needed

Hospital CIO explaining compelling role for Glass in the ER.

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Google Glass comes in for a lot of derision in tech circles. It's nerdy, distrasting, obnoxious and of questionnable value. Sort of like Twitter in its early days.

But listening to Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) CIO John Halamka last week shed some light about how Glass can be a life saver. Literally.

"There have been lifesaving events because of mobile computing," said Hamlaka. He gave the example of a patient about to get shot when an alert came up the display informing the clinician of an life threatening allergy. The shot was not given and the worst did not happen.

I am not sure in this case if the information  came on a strategically placed display or in Google Glass, but the point remains: point-of-care information in medicine can mean life or death.

"The idea (with Glass) is that I do not have to grab the iPad or iPhone. Rather, something will give me alerts and reminders about urgent and critical issues," explained Halamka. Glass is also hands free and cleaner than iPhones or iPads, which are continually touched.

Even a lay person can see that Glass or wearables of some sort could work well in hospital and medical settings. Cops, soldiers, firefighters, EMTs also need critical information in realtime. Imagine how unnverving it would be when a cop donning Glass walks up to your car and hands you a speeding ticket (ok, no Glass when driving).

There's many professions where Glass or a Glass-like device could be not only useful, but critical.

Glass' purpose seems little different than the helmet mike soldiers wear in combat - delivering information that can save lives and in the soldier's case, turn the tide of battle.   

What confuses the issue are folks who wear Glass with no particular purpose. The people wearing Glass seems to be celebrities or media types trying out the technology. Just as with the PC in the early days, work environments is where Glass will get traction if it's actually the wearable that will. 

I asked Halamka about the acceptance of Glass at BIDMC. 

"The ER, which is paperless, has been very tech positive whereas clincians tend to be conservative. I mean it has pluses and minuses. There's not enough pixels and the user interface (is not good). Yes, there will aways be naysayers, but we will deploy technology  where it makes the most sense," he says.

In medicine, the Glass paradigm would seem to make sense. See if you agree. Watch the video below. 


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Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney 21 Points | Tue, 06/03/2014 - 21:30

Google Glass and similar products likely to emerge will prove highly valuable in many enterprise settings. That needs to be kept in mind as Glass continues to confront derision and backlash.

Tom Schmidt 4 Points | Tue, 06/03/2014 - 19:02

Great post, John. I was skeptical as well until I read the Boston Globe's coverage of Google Glass at Beth Israel last month. Outstanding use case! 

John Dodge 1535 Points | Wed, 06/04/2014 - 19:00

Yeah, Hamlamka has always been on the cutting edge. That said, he lists some pretty practical reasons for Glass in the ER. 

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Tue, 06/03/2014 - 15:00

It is all about having the right information when you are staring at the data in front of you.  This technology in concept enables the immediate access to relevant information.  Long way to go but here are some ideas on similar applications across other industries:

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John Dodge 1535 Points | Tue, 06/03/2014 - 18:30

"...having the right information when you are staring at the data in front of you." That would be Little Data, right?

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Wed, 06/04/2014 - 04:06

Absolutely, John.  Little by little, Big Data matters:

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Charles Bess 93 Points | Tue, 05/13/2014 - 18:20

The concept is applicable to any situation where your hands are full and yet you'd like to have information at your fingertips. It could be on an oil rig, a battle field or a surgery. I'm not saying that Google glass is the best implimentation of augmented reality, but the business case.

What we have today is just a roadsign along the journey. We've not come close to having a killer application, but we will likely say (when looking back) someone could see it from here.

John Dodge 1535 Points | Wed, 05/14/2014 - 14:29

Exactly. The idea that the critical information is put in front of you is a no-brainer. We'll see who figures out how to do it in a compelling way first. Glass is a but a start down this path.