Patients Prefer Google Glass Over Telephone Consults in EDs

A majority of patients seen by a dermatologist via Google Glass during an emergency department visit were satisfied with the experience, according to a recent study published in JAMA Dermatology, Kaiser Health News reports.

Background

According to KHN, an ED physician typically pages an on-call specialist to consult about a patient's condition. The physician provides the specialist with information about the patient's case, and the specialist then recommends treatment, often without ever actually seeing the patient in person.

Megan Ranney, study author and assistant professor of emergency medicine and policy at Brown University, said, "There had been a lot of talk about using [Google] Glass in health care, but at the time that we designed the study, no one had actually tried it. No one knew if it would work."

Study Details

For the study, physicians at Rhode Island Hospital's ED used Google Glass to connect patients with specialists.

To assess the program, researchers surveyed 31 individuals with skin conditions who visited the Rhode Island Hospital ED over a six-month period.

Study Findings

The study found that 93.5% of patients with skin problems who were seen by dermatologists via Google Glass liked the experience, while 96.8% were confident that the video equipment was accurate and protected their privacy (Gillespie, Kaiser Health News, 4/20).

Paul Porter, the study's principal investigator and an ED physician, said the study found that although "the patients prefer in-person visits, they said they preferred the video consultation over a more widely practiced telephone consult" (Rhode Island Hospital release, 4/15).

According to KHN, the researchers plan to conduct further studies on the practice to see whether use of the system could be used for ED patients with other conditions, such as those showing symptoms of stroke or potential poisoning.

Peter Chai, a lead study author and a medical toxicology fellow at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said allowing poison control center toxicologists, who are usually only available via phone, to virtually see patients could "save the money of transport, keep [patients] in the community intensive care unit and give better patient care" (Gillespie, Kaiser Health News, 4/20).

Source: iHealthBeat, Monday, April 20, 2015

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