Though it isn’t yet publicly for sale, Google Glass has managed to nab headlines during its heavily publicized testing phase. Legislatures across the country have passed or are considering passing measures to outlaw drivers from donning the high-tech glasses in an attempt to avoid yet another category of deadly distracted driving accidents. Bars, restaurants and other private establishments have also taken action against the gadgets, with some post signs banning patrons from wearing the glasses to protect the privacy of other customers.
Given the continually expanding list of possible uses for the glasses, it isn’t surprising that someone has found a way to use them in the medical field. It was announced earlier this month by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that its doctors have become the first in the country to wear the new Google Glasses while interacting with patients, something the hospital believes is the start of a soon-to-be widely embraced trend.
An ER doctor led the push to introduce the technology to the hospital and says that he is still discovering new ways to use the glasses. So far, the hospital says the glasses provide an excellent way to display patient information quickly; saving time that would otherwise be wasted consulting a chart. Information like a patient’s name, previous medical history, allergies, X-rays and scans can all be pushed onto the glasses and in front of the doctor’s eyes instantly.
The glasses allow doctors to remain with patients rather than leave to consult charts or computer records and are totally wireless, allowing them to make notes or to page nurses on the fly. So far, the hospital says it owns four pairs of the glasses, for which it paid $1,500 a pair. Though they are currently limited to use by doctors only, the plan is to purchase many more pairs and distribute them to nurses and medical techs so that whole departments can be seamlessly connected.
Hospital officials say that no patients have complained so far and that no one has yet asked for a doctor not to use them. One serious worry with the new, untested technology is security. In an age where sensitive information is easily hacked or stolen, many wonder about the potential consequences of filling such small, wearable devices with so much incredibly valuable personal information. In this context, a misplaced pair of glasses could become a serious security breach rather than a minor annoyance. The hospital says that it has taken care to ensure that patient confidentiality is protected. Should the trend catch on, many experts wonder how long it will take before a mistake is made and a serious breach occurs.