June 14, 2014

Medical education, from traditional medical school to the field training of paramedics, is about to fall under the influence of Google GOOG +0.02% Glass.  Today, high tech training simulation is mainstream.  For example, computer driven mannequins can be programmed to simulate an extensive array of cardiac arrhythmias from ventricular fibrillation to atrial flutter–all important clinical conditions, but with greatly varying treatment scenarios. And making a “training emergency” as real as possible helps improved what happens in the real world.  But now, Google Glass is being tested as a new layer of technology that makes education more realist and potentially more effective.

Last week, Rafael Grossmann, MD, FACS used Google Glass in the operating room and presented in this blog.  Now, this Google Explorer is extending its use into medical education and begins to look at the value of Glass as a tool for teaching.  His blog is a chronicle of medical innovation and well worth reading and following.  Here are Grossmann’s comments, right after the “procedure”.

This morning, I had members our elite medical transport team, the LifeFlight of Maine (LoM) crew here in the office (, along with their “top-of-the-line”, high-tech medical simulator mannequin, ready to show the potential of GoogleGlass in medical education. We set up a treatment room and then created a computerized clinical scenario. The mannequin “patient” was wirelessly connected to a laptop, where any set of clinical variables could be created.

We worked in three basic forms; first, a critical care LoM RN, emergently treating a patient and requesting advice from a remote Google Glass Surgeon. The second scenario involved the G-Glass Surgeon, remotely teaching a procedure to a group of students (PA’s, medical students and EMS students); here, the instructor is hands-free, concentrating on the actual procedure and the different steps to make it easy for the students to learn. The third one was a clinical situation where a request for advice was placed to a remote Google Glass cardiologist, my good friend and colleague, glass Explorer pioneer Dr. Christian Assad (@Christianassad), whom was able to give his expertise to the provider in need, from a remote location, wearing Google Glass in a Hang-out.

The simulation is striking and very powerful.  Here’s Dr. Grossmann and and his students making more history with Glass.  Remember, this is a simulation, but it’s strikingly realistic. Let’s take a clinical journey as a patient with chest trama is evaluated.

Introductory comments from Dr. Grossmann. 

Clinical evaluation and inserting the chest tube. 

Students remotely observing the procedure. 

A remote consultation with a cardiologist.

It’s clear that change is coming to medicine and  Digital health is part of the confluence of change that will re-imagine healthcare from patient empowerment to educational tools.  Today’s medical students and others in training have the unique experience of having “grown up” with technology that includes the PC, gaming and the smart phone.  The extension of this to clinical practice will not be a revolutionary jump (as is for an older generation) but will be a natural evolution of the technology that has become second nature.  And this “technological convergence” is just a few short years away as students are graduated and become the teachers. The role of Google Glass and other  devices will become commonplace across the healthcare continuum and provide an essential clinical tool–from the paramedic on location to advanced care  and consultations.

Google Glass changes our vision of healthcare and shortens this distance between the patient and caregiver   And it’s in that shortened distance and immediacy of response that awaits the potential opportunity  to vastly improve care, and in the final analysis, save lives.

Keep Critical! Follow me on Twitter and stay healthy!


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