A US surgeon recently used Google Glass to live-stream a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy procedure on Google+ Hangouts. An iPad was used a receiver. The case is said to be the first when Google Glass, which is not yet available on the marketplace, was used during a live surgery. The surgeon, Rafael Grossman, MD, is one of thousands of Google Glass Explorers who are testing the device. In a post on his blog, Grossman discusses the procedure and what Google Glass could mean for healthcare.
Grossman says that the procedure was compliant with privacy laws because he obtained informed consent from the patient beforehand, and made sure that no identifying information was revealed (the patient’s face was not shown).
While the event was not a technological breakthrough—Google Glass Explorers around the world have shared their experiences in Hangouts—Grossman, who is a Tedx speaker and FutureMed graduate, may help re-ignite the interest in Google Glass for healthcare applications with his detailed and enthusiastic blog posts and because he is one of the first doctors having access to Google Glass. Grossman outlines how physicians could use Google Glass during surgery to train medical students, consult patients remotely and ask for opinions from colleagues on complicated cases. (Surgeons could also use the hand-free device to access patient information and other critical data in a sterile operating room, among other applications).
Such uses for Google Glass are more realistic in the near future than the use of facial recognition technology to store and find patient files (for example, with the Google Glass hack MedRef), since Google repeatedly has stated that it will not approve facial recognition software any time soon. While it’s possible the decision will be reversed if Google comes up with a solution to the privacy concerns that caught the attention of the US Congress, the potential for Google Glass in healthcare remains exciting either way.