The following is a guest post by Jon Fox MD, Founder of HealthApp Connect.
This changes everything.
Last week I had the opportunity to demo Google Glass. I test drove the Glass of one of the four thousand “Explorers” who were lucky enough to “win” a pair of specs from Big G. And as a healthcare provider, I must say that it knocked my socks off.
As you probably know, Google’s innovative Glass is a small rectangular mirror held in front of your right eye by a lightweight titanium band. You turn on your Glass by tapping this band, or alternatively tilting your head back. Then a transparent prompt appears in front of your eye at a comfortable fixed focal length. I presume if you’re visually challenged, a corrective lens can be added to the otherwise glassless frame.
Responding to the prompt, I said “OK Glass, take a picture” and it took a photo of the person in front of me. “OK Glass, take a video” launched a 10 second video recording. When I said “OK Glass, send text message”, I was asked by a pleasant female voice to whom I wanted it sent. The voice seemed to come from inside my skull, and I’m told that sound is conducted via your temporal bone, providing an intimate and pleasing aural experience.
I could also navigate by swiping or tapping the touchpad built into my “sky blue” titanium frame. Although physicians may find that talking to or playing with their specs is not appropriate in a clinical setting, I expect commands someday will be relayed from an inconspicuous wristband or belt, or even eye tracking gestures.
Currently Google Glass is tethered to your smartphone’s internet connection and transported in a protective bag. Battery life is a few hours at best, and functionality is still not clear. But “Glassware” has already been produced by app makers at Twitter and Facebook, and some independent engineers are building apps for use in the operating room or medical education.
But to me as a healthcare provider, Glass’s really exciting future lies in the EMR space. First, its form compels a user interface that is both simple and unobtrusive, a holy grail for EMRs. Second, it allows us clincians to maintain eye contact with our patients and does not interfere with our natural workflow, two big drawbacks of EMRs. And third, it lets us work like professionals rather than data entry clerks. Primary care physicians may even become “cool”, or at least not called “a vanishing breed”.
Of course, existing EMRs cannot merely be transferred to Google Glass. They will need to be redesigned from the ground up, hopefully this time with input from healthcare providers and consumers. Here’s an example:
Google hopes to make Glass available to the public by the end of the year. For $1500 and a carrier charge of $40 per month, ordinary people will be able to document their every moment. Some backlash to this threat to our privacy is already appearing, such as “Ban the Glass” signs. However, within the Healthcare Industry, such concerns likely will be trumped by its obvious usefulness and HIPAA guidelines. Hopefully, the powerful EMR companies will rise up to meet the challenge, but I suspect Google Glass is going to disrupt their legacy businesses in a big way.
This changes everything.