June 17, 2014

The doctor will see you now — through Google Glass.

Physicians at California health care-provider Dignity Health are using Google Inc.’s Glass to double the amount of time they spend seeing patients daily. The wearable computer is outfitted with software that automatically enters data generated during exams into electronic medical records. Physicians say the technology reduces by more than two-thirds the time spent documenting patient visits.

Dignity physicians can now document patient visits in 15 minutes — far less than the two hours they previously spent after every shift typing data into a computer, said Dr. Davin Lundquist, a family physician and chief medical information officer at Dignity Health. He said the set-up lets him “think about what the patient is telling me,” rather than having to continually pause to type notes on his iPad.

With health-care reform calling for efficiencies in clinical procedures, doctors are looking for ways to spend more time with patients and less time on more bureaucratic tasks such as entering data into a computer. Glass, a computer that includes a data-displaying screen positioned over the wearer’s right eye, is reducing that friction.

At Dignity, it works like this: As Mr. Lundquist examines patients, Glass streams the event to a computer system from startup Augmedix Inc., which populates the patient’s electronic medical record with vital statistics and observations spoken by the physician. Using Glass, Mr. Lundquist can also verbally request information from the EMR, such as a request to see the patient’s last three blood pressure tests, which Augmedix delivers to the display.

Early results are encouraging for Mr. Lundquist and two other Dignity physicians, all of whom have been using Glass with Augmedix since January. The amount of a doctor’s time spent daily with patients — each physician sees an average of 15 to 20 visits per day — rose to 70% from 35%, pre-Glass. The doctors also reduced the time they spent manually entering notes into the EMR by more than one-third — from 33% pre-Glass to 9% after.

Patients are informed prior to the use of the service; they may also decline the use of the service, which is also secured per HIPAA rules. To meet security provisions of theHealth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Dignity set up a separate, encrypted network that hosts Augmedix and Glass data traffic, which is also protected by multiple layers of authentication.

Augmedix employees monitor the exams remotely and ensure that the software accurately entered data. Several other startups are capitalizing on the health care industry’s interest in Glass; software from Wearable Intelligence Inc. helps physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center use Glass to treat patients in its emergency department without running afoul of privacy regulations.

With competition in the software-for-wearable space growing, Augmedix is creating a feature that would allow, for example, a family physician in Wyoming to request assistance via Glass in real-time from a cardiologist in New York. It’s also looking to automate some of the tasks that Mr. Lundquist continues to do manually, such as ordering blood work or X-rays, and to provide physicians more guidance at the point of care.

Those features could build on what has already been a big boost to patient engagement and clinical time savings with Glass, said Mr. Lundquist. “I don’t take it off the entire time I’m with patients,” he said.




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