Stroke experts from Memorial Hermann in Houston are using Google Glass at sites of emergencies to test if the wearable can be used to help save time, money and lives. Dr. James Grotta, director of Stroke Research at Memorial Hermann’s Texas Medical Center hospital started using Glass to share critical medical information with the hospital’s staff while responding to 911 calls related to potential stroke victims.
Medical workers involved in the project are currently using smartphones as mobile hotspots to keep the wearable online when in the field. The addition of Glass lets doctors and emergency responders keep their hands free when consulting patients, allowing them to act faster when time is critical.
“We can start treatment right away at those sites and save a lot of time,” Grotta told the Houston Chronicle. “With the brain, this is critical. I think this technology will work all over the county.”
If the hospital’s experiment catches on, doctors and EMTs could eventually adopt Glass as part of their standard gear to keep in contact with stroke experts when treating a potential victim, however the value of the wearable computer is still being evaluated. Strokes are among the top five causes of death in the US and cost America’s healthcare system around $200,000 per person annually, according to Grotta.
The introduction of Glass is part of a program Grotta launched with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to expedite patient stroke diagnosis and treatment. The project referred to as the “mobile stroke unit” includes a special ambulance equipped with a mini CT scanner and other imaging equipment to to help the team locate life-threatening blood clots.
It’s estimated that about 32 of the stroke calls responded to by the unit involved patients that needed immediate treatment for blood clots that could have resulted in death or serious disability. The team will test the cost-effectiveness of using Glass for a period of three in a study with 150 patients. The research will be used to determine if the wearable is safe and reliable enough to get reimbursement from the government for use of the $1,500 device.