Paramedics in Chicago will soon become the first EMS professionals in the US to transmit live video and audio to doctors from accident scenes via Google Glass.
With the recent rollout of the first US ambulance provider to use Google Glass for EMS telemedicine, it would seem that Google Glass may indeed be alive and well after all. At least in a commercial setting.
Medical Express Ambulance Service (MedEx), is now “the first in America to use Google Glass to visually connect paramedics in the field directly with doctors,” the company said in a news release from the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 12.
The rollout was launched on Feb. 1 in partnership with the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, where MedEx hopes to expand the Google Glass digital health initiative to other area hospitals.
The MedEx Google Glass-enabled ambulance at the Chicago Auto Show. Pictured is MedEx CEO Lauren Rubinson-Morris from a recent media article. Photo: Chicago Auto Show
Real-time audio and video feeds
MedEx is touting its Google Glass telemedicine program as “dramatically improving communications between paramedics and emergency room doctors.”
Traditionally, MedEx says, EMS personnel connect with emergency room physicians via two-way radios or cell phones. Now, by having EMS technicians wearing Google Glass, MedEx paramedics can transmit live audio and video from the ambulance to a physician.
The physician will be able to receive the Google Glass feed on a tablet, smart phone or desktop computer, thereby providing doctors with critical information in order to provide the best possible patient care.
Boon or bust?
Google Glass for EMS will undoubtedly give physicians a new tool in their trauma tool box and offer them unprecedented real-time video of their incoming patients.
“When you turn that camera on, it enables much better care of the patient,” Dr. Eddie Markul, medical director of emergency medical services at Advocate, said in a recent interview. “The visual answers so many questions instantly, as opposed to hearing somebody describing the patient.”
In his recent article “Google Glass won't solve EMS problems (but it can help)”, Arthur Hsieh lauds the MedEx development for “extending the reach of the medical” but fears what he calls an “electronic leash.”
Hsieh argues that paramedics are already trained to recognize and respond to signs of stroke, for example, using long-established protocols that would not necessarily be augmented by physicians standing over their virtual shoulders via Google Glass.
“With all respect to the physician community, please think bigger than this,” writes Hsieh.
Whither Google Glass 2.0
With this recent launch by MedEx, and plans to roll out 10 more Google Glass “rolling hot spots” ambulances at a cost of $250K per vehicle, it appears at least one commercial customer has a clear vision for the way ahead. Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns
“At MedEx, we work hard to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to equipping our ambulances with the latest innovations,” said MedEx CEO Lauren Rubinson-Morris. “Google Glass is particularly helpful in medical situations involving health risks that require visual assessment for treatment, such as trauma, burns, cardiac arrest, strokes and seizures.”
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