Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, is bringing Google Glass into the emergency department. Using a stripped-down version of the wearable mobile video communications technology, researchers will test the efficacy of using Google Glass for real-time audio-visual consults for consenting patients who require a dermatology consultation. In a statement, hospital executives said the facility is the first hospital in the United States to use Google Glass in an emergency department setting.

“We live in a world of instant gratification, and in many ways, we’re testing that mindset by using Google Glass to enhance telemedicine in the emergency department,” said principal investigator Paul Porter, M.D., a physician in the emergency departments of Rhode Island, Hasbro Children’s and The Miriam hospitals. “In this study, we will use Google Glass to stream live images of a patient’s dermatological condition to the consulting dermatologist. As the emergency medicine physician observes the patient’s skin condition, the consulting dermatologist will be able to see identical images on a tablet in real time, giving the dermatologist the ability to offer appropriate advice, diagnosis and treatment options.”

Porter and researchers Peter Chai, M.D., and Roger Wu, M.D., worked with experts at Pristine, a healthcare technology communications company that has developed a HIPAA-compliant version of the Google technology.

“While the initial study is limited to emergency department patients who require a dermatology consult, we recognize that the opportunities for Google Glass in a medical setting are very broad,” Porter said. “Ultimately, the use of this technology could result in better coordinated care, faster interventions, better outcomes, fewer follow-up office visits, fewer readmissions, and lower costs – for a wide range of disciplines, not just dermatology.

“We also envision this technology eventually being used by first responders and nursing homes as a tool to communicate with emergency medicine physicians,” Porter said.

The six-month feasibility study will be limited to patients in the Rhode Island Hospital emergency department who require a dermatology consult, and who consent to taking part in the study.

For a video of Porter discussing the study and its possible implications, click here.

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