Developers Launch New Google Glass Healthcare Apps

Though Google Glass, Google’s head-mounted wearable computer, has been available to the general public for little more than a month, developers have been hard at work for some time designing apps aimed at the healthcare market. The recently released healthcare apps that work with Google’s device are designed to streamline physicians’ workflow by automating paperwork, capturing and sharing videos and images, and allowing instant access to patients’ electronic medical records (EMRs).

Automating Health Data

Drchrono lets physicians interact with patients’ health data hands-free while wearing Google Glass. The app records a physician’s consultation with a patient and automatically uploads spoken information to the patient’s EMR. The goal is to allow physicians to spend more face-to-face time with each patient by eliminating the need to stop and take notes.

Another Google Glass platform that automatically enters information into patients’ EMRs has been developed by Augmedix. Physicians also use can voice commands to retrieve data from a patient’s medical files—for example, vital signs from a previous visit or future appointments scheduled. Augmedix is pilot-testing its software through a partnership with California-based Dignity Health. The company is also researching ways to use Google Glass for other tasks, such as ordering blood work or sending reminders to physicians as they consult with their patients.

A product from Wearable Intelligence called Informant provides a variety of data to physicians via Google Glass; real-time information like vital signs, patient EMR data, and alerts or error notifications display in the provider’s field of view.

Video Features

Several of the new apps offer video recording and streaming. Drchrono gives users the ability to take photos and record videos for immediate upload to a patient’s EMR. CrowdOptic is video streaming software for Google Glass that aims to improve physician training and patient care. The app allows live streaming of video to both remote and nearby audiences. For example, a surgeon wearing Google Glass can live stream a surgery to an outside audience while also streaming to other healthcare providers in the same operating room who are equipped with Glass. The company recently announced a partnership with University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) to test such streaming for physician training purposes.

Mentor, from Wearable Intelligence, also lets surgeons record point-of-view video of surgeries that can become part of a training program. Other surgeons wearing Google Glass can later review the video hands-free before they perform similar procedures.

Privacy and Security

Providers of Google Glass apps seem to be taking privacy and security concerns seriously. CrowdOptic has both HIPAA-compliant and noncompliant modes. The app turns HIPAA-compliant mode on or off depending on where the wearer looks—if he or she is looking at an operating room, for example, HIPAA-compliant mode is activated and some features are disabled.

Wearable Intelligence’s platform is HIPAA-compliant too. Augmedix’s secure features to comply with HIPAA rules include an encrypted network with several layers of authentication. At Dignity Health, patients are given verbal and written information about their physician’s use of Google Glass. If a patient asks that the physician not use the device, he or she immediately complies. Patients seem to approve of Google Glass–wearing physicians. To date, Dignity has reported that less than 1 percent of patients have made such a request. Time will tell if privacy and security issues arise with ongoing use of Google Glass and as new apps are released.