In 'new chapter,' Google's Glass pivots toward healthcare and other industries

Dignity Health, Sutter Health and others say Glass Enterprise Edition – which now features a detachable module that can work with other eyewear – has helped with efficiency and allowed doctors to focus more on patients.
By Mike Miliard
12:48 PM
Google Glass in healthcare

Google announced a new version of its Glass technology on July 18, refocusing on ways it can be deployed in enterprise settings such as hospitals.

Glass didn't end up being the hot consumer gadget the company hoped for when it was unveiled amid much hype in 2013. But it's been finding a foothold as a workplace tool in the years since – not least in healthcare.

In a blog post, Jay Kothari, project lead at Glass, noted that the tool is helping mechanics at GE Aviation perform engine maintenance, showing mechanics "videos, animations and images right in their line of sight so they don’t have to stop work to check their binders or computer to know what to do next."

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It's also been deployed at dozens of other businesses such as Boeing, DHL and Volkswagen. But beyond manufacturing and logistics, healthcare is one of the top areas Glass Enterprise Edition is finding success.

Glass EE customers include Cincinnati-based TriHealth, Wilmington, Delaware-based Christiania Care, and Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Kothari pointed to two clients – Sacramento, California-based Sutter Health and San Francisco-based Dignity Health – that are deploying Glass in useful ways.

At Dignity Health, physicians use an app called a remote scribe, developed by Glass-affiliated startup Augmedix. It enables docs to better connect with their patients by looking them in the eye, while note-taking is being done in the background.

[Also: Google Glass startup Augmedix scores $23 million from McKesson Ventures, others]

The health system's CMIO, Davin Lundquist, MD, said Glass had helped physicians double their time with patients, while reducing the time needed to typing up notes and other administrative work from 33 percent to less than 10 percent of each day, Kothari pointed out.

At Sutter Health, which also uses Augmedix technology, doctors have found similar time savings. By enabling better connection with patients, Albert Chan, MD, Sutter's chief of digital patient experience, said Glass has "brought the joys of medicine back to my doctors."

Livonia, Michigan-based Trinity Health announced July 18 that it would test Glass EE in a new an initiative that pairs the tool with video technologies developed by swyMed.

In a simulation at Maywood, Illinois-based Loyola University Health System, the two organizations aim to develop a tool that could address challenges related to future physician shortages.

By combining the glasses-mounted EE module, in combination with swyMed telehealth video, the hope is that secondary providers who do home visits to assess patients – those just released from the hospital, or with chronic conditions – in real time, without having to hold a video camera or a tablet.

"These innovative technologies have the potential to better leverage the skills and expertise of our physicians and secondary providers – such as medical and nursing students – in order to increase access to primary care for people in our communities," said Capers Harper, manager, virtual medicine at Loyola. "This simulation will bring providers into the home in a real-time interaction with the patient, the in-person caregiver and the virtual medical provider. Our hope is that this combination approach will significantly benefit our patients."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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