ETSU OBGYN resident Amber Mullins wearing Google Glass. (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)
“OK, Glass, record video,” Dr. Martin Olsen said, and suddenly video of the patient he was staring at was transmitted to a nearby tablet computer for all to see.
Another simple command to the Google Glass device on his head, “Take a picture,” and a still image of the patient was obtained. All he had to do was look at her.
“This device has significant medical applications,” said Olsen, who is residency program director for obstetrics and gynecology at East Tennessee State University’s College of Medicine.
Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical, head-mounted display that Olsen demonstrated Wednesday morning.
See a video of Google Glass in action at the end of this article and a photo gallery of the demonstration.
“As far as I know, there are just a very few medical schools that have this, so I would say we are on the forefront of technology,” Olsen said.
He entered a contest by Google for “explorers” and was selected as one of 8,000 people who would get to test the device, which probably will not be available for purchase to the general public until some time next year.
He flew to New York about a month ago to buy his.
Olsen said he was selected because of his academic work in simulation surgery at the College of Medicine.
“I think the education of the future is more learner driven, where the learners evaluate themselves,” he said. “They can put these on, they can do a simulated procedure, they can see how they did, they can make their own judgement how they can improve.”
The patient with which he demonstrated the device Wednesday was Chloe, a full-body surgical simulator developed by ETSU professors to help instruct students and residents on how to conduct medical procedures.
In the time he has had the device, it has been used to help teach his students as they work on Chloe.
Google Glass was placed on Chloe’s head and ordered to record the students as they operated on her.
After students did a procedure on Chloe, the video was replayed with the students being able to watch from Chloe’s (or the patients) point of view.
Amber Mullins, a second-year medical resident in OBGYN, was one of those students.
“It was interesting,” she said. “Afterwards, we were able to see how we acted during the scenario. We were able to see if we had good eye contact, if we had weird mannerisms that we didn’t really know that we had.
“It was helpful just in seeing how we interacted with the patient.”
Olsen used Google Glass to examine his own debrief of residents after a procedure and realized he needed to stop talking so much and let the residents speak more.
“It really does make a difference to see yourself and evaluate from your own eyes how you could be better,” Olsen said.
But Olsen predicted Google Glass said this could help save lives if used by medical professionals.
An example Olsen gave involved emergency medical technicians treating a patient with severe injuries from a car crash. Wearing Google Glass, the EMT could provide treatment and transmit real time data back to emergency room doctors on the ride to the hospital. Doctors seeing the injuries could offer advice to the EMT and also prep to receive the patient as soon as he or she arrives.
The devices could also record medical procedures and save them for doctors to review later. This would be particularly useful in a situation where various doctors were monitoring an infection.
Another possible utilization is in telemedicine. Doctors could instantly and easily see what another doctor is seeing across the globe and offer advice accordingly.
There is no requirement to report the results of using Google Glass, but a group of about 200 medical “explorers” who also got a device communicate with each other about their experiences with the new technology. Other groups of “explorers” include educators and Tennesseans.
Asked if he though everyone would one day be using Google Glass, Olsen said he was not sure, but the implications of communicating this way are many.
“I don’t know that we’ll all be wearing them, but I think in medicine it’s going to be the wave of the future,” he said.