Home > #Glassed, #GlassMed, FutureMed, Futurism, GoogleGlass, Healthcare, MedEd, medicine, mHealth, surgery, Uncategorized > Questions and Hurdles for GoogleGlass in Medicine

Questions and Hurdles for GoogleGlass in Medicine

I was recently asked these three questions, by Dr. Jennifer M. Joe, of Mestro.com  and Editor-in-Chief  of  MedtechBoston.com, in regards to the convergence of GoogleGlass and Medicine.

–What will be the top 5 mistakes that physicians/clinicians will have about Google Glass?

–What are the top 5 fields who will benefit from Google Glass? Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Dermatology, and Neurology?
–What will be the top 5 biggest hurdles in getting Google Glass into the clinical setting?

Obviously, I’m not able to exactly predict the future, but I feel that my experience of several years as a surgeon and of a few years as an innovator in healthcare and, more recently, as a GoogleGlass Explorer might give me some extra advantage as well as insight to be able to come up with interesting thoughts, arising from EXPERIENCE and INTUITION.

A- What will be the top 5 mistakes-misconceptions that physicians/clinicians will have about Google Glass?

I believe that in the initial phases, as Glass is publicly released, many healthcare providers will purchase it; the interest and curiosity about the device will be  based on the reports of medical peers, GoogleGlass Explorers, after several months of experience with it, along with the spectacular and exciting coverage and spread by the media.

1-I think that one of the most common mistakes that I can foresee, is that most users will assume that the device has connectivity of its own.It does not! It needs a wifi network to connect to, or a smartphone that it can tether to, in order to have internet capabilities.

2-Another issue, will be related to its inappropriate use regarding privacy regulations and HIPAA.To use this device in the clinical setting (with patients), the device needs, or should be,”cleared” by your institution’s compliance office, but ONLY when there will be transmission of patient’s data through the device, through the internet. If the device is being used during a visit, for instance,  to look up information related to the patient’s condition in the internet, or to help explain a subject to a patient, using a digital resource, or in any way that does not involve patient’s Private Health Information (PHI), there should be no concerns about HIPAA compliance.

3-The device is not fully functional with only voice commands. It does need the “tap or swipe” on the right frame, to navigate certain menus; this makes it unsuitable, at least in an efficient manner,  for use when the user’s hands need to remain sterile.

4- The screen on the device is the equivalent of a 28″ screen seen from approximately 6-8 ft away; despite this, the content display allowance on the screen is in no way the same to what you can fit on an equivalent “non-Glass” display.

5-The battery life of the device is very limited, and if used continuously, the charge would likely not last much more than an hour or two, almost always requiring an additional, external, portable power supply.

B- What are the top 5 fields who will benefit from Google Glass? Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Dermatology, and Neurology?

I think that “procedural” specialties (Emergency, Surgery, EMS), as well as those that rely heavily in the direct observation and “inspection” of the patient and the gathering of visual data to make a diagnosis (Radiology, Psychiatry, Neurology) will be the ones that will initially benefit from this type of device. After the device evolves, and eventually presents itself as the next step in the evolution of the computing platform to connect us to the digital realm, any medical specialty will integrate it as part of the routine, just as we now have PC’s, laptops, tablets, etc.

C- What will be the top 5 biggest hurdles in getting Google Glass into the clinical setting?

1-I believe that the protection of Private Health Information (PHI) and compliance with HIPAA are at this point the main obstacles being faced by GoogleGlass incorporation into the clinical setting (at least in the USA). There are developers working on this topic, and also some who have come up with solutions which are currently being tested in different locations.

2-Integration with the Electronic Medical record (EMR) is a feature that must be accomplished, if GoogleGlass is to be useful in the current setting of Healthcare. The device needs to be an extension of the current platforms that we routinely use, running the same EMR software or at least agnostically conversing with it.

3-Cost has to come down for it to be universally adopted as a new platform, likely substituting  the smartphone in  the near future. The price would have to be competitive with the cost of current portable devices.

4-There will have to be a change of “culture”, in the side of both the providers and the patients. This will naturally happen, as it did with the smartphones and tablets.

5- The network infrastructure will have to be enhanced. The bandwidth of current cellular and wifi networks, does not allow an optimal transmission of data.Dedicated networks will have to be developed so that medical users can have priority channels to allow connectivity without delays, flaws or intrusiveness.

I think that for now, these are my few thoughts regarding these very interesting questions; I hope this helps.

Please don’t forget to connect with me via Twitter at @ZGJR, or to visit the blog for further follow up comments or inquiries regarding this topic or the general theme of Innovation Technology in Healthcare.

As always, I’m very interested in spreading this information and my vision for the use of GoogleGlass in Healthcare, as well as conversing about what the future of technology in medicine will be like. Image

Always looking for speaking engagements and platforms.

Best ,

Rafael Grossmann, MD, FACS


OTHER Links, including my three recent TEDx talks about Glass in Healthcare in 2013.
#TEDx on the intuitive #GoogleGlass preventing Med errors and empowering the #EMR
“OK Glass”:Disrupt HC
#TEDx on wearable #GoogleGlass #mHealth “OK Glass: I need a surgeon http://t.co/qHNxy34k4E My Journey from the Amazon to GoogleGlass in 2014GoogleGlass & other Marvels, for Youth – My latest vid at #TEDx Youth@JBMHS, “GoogleGlass and other Marvelshttp://youtu.be/k_d0vfgBYm4
How will #googleglass fit in with #medicine? @ZGJR has answers. Watch his short vlog here: http://t.co/Q6LsAFMeWVhttp://t.co/cYbkDSKzWK
  1. Robert Emmett Kelly
    March 11, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I am a Glass user. I would hope that data captured by Glass in a medical setting would be retained in a HIPAA secure storage location and not in Google’s cloud. I don’t believe that is the case right now.


  2. March 11, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Dr. Grossman, thanks for trying to balance the hype about Google Glass benefits with some realistic concerns inherent in the technology. As a heart attack survivor, blogger and women’s health advocate, I’m particularly interested in how patient care might be impacted by all this magic. I’m interested because so far, almost everything that’s been written about Glass has been from the whiz-bang-WOW! perspective of the person wearing them – not the poor schmuck sitting across from the Glass-wearer who’s in the actual target cross-hairs of this technology. But with all due respect, you seem to be glossing over the key drawback if physicians use Glass in a clinical setting when you write:

    “#4-There will have to be a change of “culture”, in the side of both the providers and the patients. This will naturally happen, as it did with the smartphones and tablets”

    First of all, as any patient can tell you, smartphones and tablets can be equally distracting in doctor-patient communication – just check out this 7-year old child’s drawing of a visit to the doctor’s office as a classic example, as published in JAMA: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1187932

    Assuming merely that “there will have to be a change in culture” minimizes the importance of the human relationship between care provider and patient in a naively dismissive fashion. This will NOT “naturally happen” unless patients decide to forever abandon all hope of human connection with their care providers.

    Secondly, here’s part of my dissenting response to Dr. Ted Eytan‘s recent post on how Glass may help foster “patient-centered” care in the doctor’s office, in which I wrote:

    “From a patient’s perspective, here’s what it’s like: I’ll be sitting there, waiting patiently in the exam room for my doctor to enter, and when she arrives, I’ll look up at my Glass-wearing doctor’s face – even more intently than usual, in fact, because she’s now sporting this dorky new eyewear. Which she will have to explain in considerable time-consuming detail for me and every other patient who’s seeing Glass for the first time. But she is not looking at me. Instead of making normal eye contact with me, or asking about my condition, or attempting to put me at ease because I’m in pain or anxiously awaiting my latest test results, my doc’s eyes will regularly flit skyward as she reads informational text about me or my condition on the small screen above her right eye. Real live conversation will be awkwardly interrupted because she can’t talk and read at the same time. In between, she is tapping, scanning, and – (oh please!) – using voice commands to move from screen to screen to retrieve yet more data about me.” More on this at: http://ethicalnag.org/2013/08/15/google-glass/

    My observation so far is that, in all the pervasive hype surrounding Glass, very few physicians have bothered to consult with the very people whose relationship with their physicians will be most impacted.


    • March 11, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      Hi C. Thank you very much for your very interesting comment. In fact, I have indeed talked to a lot of patients ( I’m an avid advocate of the e-patient movement!) to gather their impressions, thoughts and concerns.
      I do think that a platform like Glass will eventually substitute the portable electronic device, We will nee a change of culture. Glass actually, I think, will help re-connect Dr and patient, because the interaction will happen face-to-face rather that the patient talking to the provider’s back when he/she is looking away to get or input data in the EMR. I’m a strong believer in the human connection between the doctor with the patient (I’m lucky that that was my training, as a doctor-in Venezuela-, and as a surgeon-in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and that I had great mentors (my father, my professors both in Venezuela and in the USA). Unfortunately, in this respect, EMR will not go away, but quite the opposite, so I think that a wearable platform like Glass, that intuitively let the provider access and manage data, will only have a positive impact.
      As with any other device or technology, the result is and will continue to be, in the hands and behavior of the users; ethical and morally correct and respectful manners are the foundations of any ideal interaction in healthcare.

      Respectfully and with all reverence for your ideas.



  1. March 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

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