June 12, 2014

Google Glass has been of interest to the healthcare industry for a while, and while performing surgery with Glass is nothing new, complying with HIPAA standards while doing it is. Video streaming software company CrowdOptic has teamed up with University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to produce streaming software that lets surgeons share their live recording with others off site. But now they are looking to include a feature to that software that allows for HIPAA compliance.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more generally referred to as “HIPAA” was put in place to protect patient information, while also creating standards for sharing a patient’s information between those who need it (insurance providers, healthcare providers, and the patient for example). The new feature from CrowdOptic meets HIPAA standards by enabling surgeons to stream video to a local server instead of  Google’s while in the operating room. Having the data sent to a local server will allow the IT team at healthcare facilities to decide who has access to it, ensuring it complies with the standards.

This video streaming software is important as it will allow surgeons to get good feedback from other doctors during the surgery by allowing them to clearly see what the operating surgeon is doing, from his point of view. This allows the doctors viewing the surgery to have the most up-to-date information on what is happening. The feature also obviously has great training and evaluation purposes, which will provide much more beneficial information than fixed cameras that may not always catch the best angle during a procedure.

CrowdOptic’s software will also have the ability to switch back to a “Non-HIPAA” mode when compliance is no longer necessary, enabling Glass’ normal features to be used. Allegedly the software will allow for the device to automatically lock down again when the wearer enters certain rooms (such as the operating room), but I remain skeptical until I see this in practice.

CrowdOptic isn’t the only company attempting to get its products into the hospital. Wearable Intelligence produces a modified version of Glass’ OS that is locked down and intended for medical purposes, they have a really cool video showing off some potential use cases (inlcuded below). I wouldn’t be surprised to see more companies producing products for the healthcare industry based around Glass and other wearables, including Google itself. Google already has ways to ensure Google Apps is HIPAA compliant, and so it would make sense to offer some of these features to Glass customers in the future.

Ultimately we all win when new technology helps doctors perform their jobs smarter and more effectively, ensuring our medical records are protected in the process is even better! I’m sure this is not the first industry that will be affected by Glass, and I look forward to see what other uses wearables will have among the medical field and others moving forward.

What do you think? Do you welcome Glass coming to the operating room, or would you prefer it not be used by surgeons? Let us know in the comments below.


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