Seattle doctors testing Google Glass for surgery and ER

It's not just for techies: Doctors are now taking a closer look at Google Glass. The wearable, web-connected glasses are being tested for use by surgeons and emergency room physicians. And some of that experimentation is being done in Seattle.

"If I want to look at for example radiology I can double tap 'radiology,'" said Dr. Carl Spitzer of Mill Valley, Calif. "There's his chest x-ray, it just popped up, oh he's got a middle lobe pneumonia."

The vital signs may be a mockup, but Dr. Spitzer believes this is the future. He's not only an ER doctor, but CEO and co-founder of Healium, a Seattle-based startup that developed a Google Glass app for the ER.

"The whole idea of having my hands free and also having a computer that is present but isn't between the doctor and the patient," said Dr. Spitzer, co-founder of Healium.

Healium could be used by first responders to send video and patient information from accident scenes.

It can be used in the ER to track patients and prioritize treatment or from any location to send vital signs, x-rays and other data to doctors nearby or thousands of miles away.

That appeals to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Ruhlman.

"To have an inter-operative consultation with somebody 3,000 miles away, to say, 'Hey I'm looking at this, you see it, what do you think?'" said Dr.Ruhlman with Orthopedic Specialists of Seattle.

For Harborview trauma surgeon Dr. Heather Evans, Google Glass offers an easier way to document surgeries.

"Instead of having to write that down or dictate that or type it in after the case is over, I immediately have a record of what happened," said Dr. Evans, assistant professor of surgery at UW Medicine.

Google Glass can also take training to a new level.

"This idea of being able to coach someone, to be able to watch what they're doing through their own eyes," said Dr. Evans.

Google Glass is still in the testing phases for physicians, but so far they're keeping their eyes open for potential uses in operating and emergency rooms. Current versions of Google glass can respond to voice commands.


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