What is Google Glass good for? Royal Philips and Accenture announced Thursday the first proof-of-concept demonstration of the augmented reality headgear for use by surgeons in the operating room, as a way to improve the efficiency of surgical procedures.
Philips' interest is significant, given that the company, with $34 billion in annual revenues, has about 50 percent of the worldwide market for the patient monitors that display measurements of vital signs in the operating room.
In Philips' implementation, Glass wirelessly receives such live data as heart rate, oxygen saturation and blood pressure. in conjunction with Accenture Technology Labs, the company worked with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, which helped conduct the successful proof of concept test that was originally developed in the Philips' Digital Accelerator Laboratory in India and the Netherlands.
In a video posted on the Web, Philips presents Beth Israel Deaconess anesthesiologist David Feinstein, who demonstrates in a simulated walkthrough how Glass can be used before, during and after surgery because of its ability to provide hands-free access to real-time data, eliminating the need for the surgeon to turn around to look at a monitor. In the proof of concept test, Glass was linked to Philips IntelliVue software, which provided the updates on patient vital signs.
In the video, Feinstein prompts Glass with "OK, Glass" at several points, starting in the hallway on the way to the OR. At that point, Glass displays overlaid text reporting a patient's status: "O.R. 6 -- Setting Up, Scheduled to begin in 12 minutes, Appendectomy, Patient Smith, I." Other screens in Glass show the patient's age, allergies and other data. Glass also displays, on command, the patient's vital signs.
"If you have to turn away to look at the monitor," Feinstein said in the video, it makes the whole process "more difficult." He added that it is more efficient to find out the needed information in one glance, without looking away from the patient.
Other Hospital Uses
Given those results, Philips said it is now discussing the possibility of using Google Glass with some of its hospital clients, which is the first step toward rolling out such a product. In addition to completing development, such an implementation would require regulatory approval.
Michael Mancuso, CEO of Patient Care and Clinical Informatics at Philips Healthcare, said in a statement that the research "explores how doctors can achieve better access to the right information at the right time so they can focus on more efficient and effective patient care."
The test raises other possibilities for hospital use of Google Glass, the companies said. These might include safety checklists, calling up images and other patient data by clinicians throughout a hospital, remotely viewing the patient in the recovery room after surgery, conducting first-person point-of-view video conferences with other surgeons or medical personnel, and first-person-viewpoint recordings of surgery for training.