Google Glass may be used to effectively extend bed-side toxicology consults to distant health care facilities such as community and rural hospitals to diagnose and manage patients, a new study has found.
The study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in US also suggests the hands-free, head-mounted streaming audio/video device helps physicians in diagnosing specific poisonings and can enhance patient care.
"In the present era of value-based care, a toxicology service using hands-free devices, such as Google Glass, could conceivably expand its coverage area and enhance patient care, while potentially decreasing overall treatment costs," said Peter R Chai, toxicology fellow at UMass Medical School.
"Our work shows that the data transmitted by Google Glass can be used to supplement traditional telephone consults, validate bedside physical exams, and diagnose and manage patients," said Chai.
Traditional telemedicine devices usually consist of large desktop or laptop computers affixed to a big cart that has to be rolled from exam room to exam room. This limits both access and functionality in a busy emergency room setting.
"Glass is positioned perfectly as an emergency medicine telemedical device. Its small, hands free and portable, so you can bring it right to the bedside and have a real-time specialist with you when you need one," said Chai.
Advances in wireless infrastructure, the miniaturisation of hardware and the advent of wearable devices such as Google Glass allow a new generation of technologies that can assist physicians and improve health care delivery to be deployed in clinical settings.
Through the device, physicians can stream video of an exam, take and enlarge photos and consult with remote specialists. In the study, emergency medicine residents performed 18 toxicology consults with Google Glass.
Physicians wearing Google Glass evaluated the patients at bedside while a secure video feed was sent to the toxicology supervising consultant.
The supervising consultant then guided the resident through text messages displayed on the Glass.
Consultants also obtained static photos of medication bottles, electrocardiograms (EKG) and other pertinent information at the discretion of the supervisor.
This was done in addition to the standard verbal consult available to residents. As a result of using Google Glass, consulting toxicologists reported being more confident in diagnosing specific toxidromes.
Additional data collected showed that the use of Google Glass also changed management of patient care in more than half of the cases seen. The study was published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.