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UCI Incorporates Google Glass into Med School Program

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The University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine yesterday announced that they would be incorporating Google Glass into their 4-year curriculum. The School, including dean of medicine, Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, stated that they would introduce Google Glass at the beginning of the students’ 4-year medical programs and would incorporate it into the first two years of anatomy and clinical skills training to their third and fourth-year hospital rotations. The hopes are to help integrate technology more effectively into a student’s overall daily life and to enable them to become more productive and effective in delivering quality care. The school claims that they will be using specialized software that will comply with the HIPAA requirements for privacy, even though I’m not entirely sure if that’ll actually be entirely possible.

While the idea of integrating Google Glass into the medical field seems incredibly great, Google needs to enable these med students and the hospitals they’ll be working in to be able to properly warehouse all of the data within the hospital’s networks. This may be difficult because Google Glass makes heavily utilization of Google’s voice recognition software, almost all of which is running in the cloud. Yes, there is a way to enable cloud-less voice recognition but it is vastly less accurate and less responsive, which means these schools like UCI need to cooperate with Google to install local hardware to enable this to properly comply with HIPPA. However, they will probably get an exemption since they are using this for testing and will likely help Google and others find ways to balance technology, usability and privacy.

If you go to a lot of doctor’s offices today, you can still see how low-tech a lot of things still are and it would be incredibly valuable to help bring technology into the doctor’s office with something like Google Glass that enables a vast amount of data to be at a Doctor’s fingertips without actually restricting their hands.

Starting this month, they will deploy 10 pairs of Google Glass with 3rd and 4th year students with preliminary plans to utilize them in operating rooms and emergency departments. In fact, the technology has already been piloted by UC Irvine’s Medical Center in operating rooms, intensive care units and the emergency department to assess its effectiveness in improving physician efficiency and patient safety. In addition to that, an additional 20 to 30 pairs of Google Glass will be acquired and deployed in August when 1st and 2nd year students start their 4-year programs. The devices will be incorporated into places like anatomy labs, medical simulation centers, the ultrasound institute the Clinical Skills Center and even the basic science lecture hall.

One of my biggest concerns about deploying Google Glass widely across a place like UCI is how patients will receive the devices as some people simply worry about being filmed or having their picture taken even though Google Glass is mostly used for things other than that. It will be interesting to see how wearables mature further and how technologies like Google Glass find their way into the medical field.