Last week we reported on Phillips and Accenture creating a proof of concept for delivering vital patient data via Google Glass in the operating room. This obviously has tremendous implications for how surgeons care for their patients and how data is presented to make informed clinical decisions. We had a chance to speak with Brent R. Blum, Wearable Display R&D lead at Accenture Technology Labs, to explore more about this project:
Ravi Parikh, Medgadget: How did the idea behind this initiative come about? Was it based on other uses of Google Glass in healthcare?
Brent R. Blum, Wearable Display R&D lead at Accenture Technology Labs: Philips and Accenture wanted to explore the impact of using a wearable device to help improve patient outcomes by giving doctors faster access to critical information at the right time.
Researchers from the Accenture Technology Lab and the Philips Digital Accelerator Lab collaborated to develop a proof of concept that connects Google Glass to Philips IntelliVue Solutions. The demonstration shows the seamless transfer of patient vital signs into Google Glass, potentially providing physicians with hands-free access to critical clinical information.
There have been other projects looking at Google Glass in the healthcare space, but we believe this is the first research demonstration that allows for and shows the seamless transfer of clinical information from Philips medical systems devices into Google Glass. Accomplishing this is a major systems integration challenge, and working together Philips and Accenture made it work.
Medgadget: What information has been able to be transmitted? What other types of information may be useful for physicians or surgeons using Google Glass?
Blum: Our proof of concept shows how patient data from Philips IntelliVue monitors are transmitted to Google Glass, providing historical and real-time information – such as patient health records and vital signs. Other information that may be useful includes:
- Accessing a pre-surgery safety checklist;
- Giving clinicians the ability to view the patient in the recovery room after surgery;
- Conducting live, first-person point-of-view videoconferences with other surgeons or medical personnel; and
- Recording surgeries from a first-person point-of-view for training purposes.
Medgadget: What types of physicians have tried this in practice? What are their reactions?
Blum: This is a proof of concept at this stage, not a commercial product. As shown in the video, Dr. Feinstein was involved with the proof of concept. As he mentions, the cool factor associated with Google Glass initially got his attention, but he quickly realized the practical applications of the technology.
As with any new technology, there is a learning curve. But after a few minutes, users quickly becomet acclimated and comfortable using the technology.
Medgadget: Are there any concerns with “information overload,” and how do you make the information presentation appear seamless?
Blum: In the same way it took the industry time to learn how to best present data on smartphones, we have to work through similar challenges with wearable devices. Overcoming these challenges will require continued testing and input from experts. It’s important to design with these concerns in mind and only present the most vital information to the user at the right time.
Medgadget: What are the next steps for getting this product to more clinicians in practice?
Blum: While the technology is ready today, there are still business and systems integration challenges that exist before we’ll see widespread adoption.
Medgadget: Any other information that you would like to share?
Blum: In the healthcare space in the near future, we expect to see many exciting applications of wearable devices. For example, in the operating room surgeons may be able to control other equipment such as oxygen levels or intravenous medications. As the technology matures, we could also see the capabilities of these devices built into the protective eyewear that healthcare professionals already wear.
At Accenture Technology Labs we’re exploring the impact of wearable devices on a number of industries to help demonstrate to our clients what’s possible with this emerging technology in making a mobile, hands-free workforce more productive and efficient.