Pennsylvania Hospital Explores Use of Google Glass for Trauma Care

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Trauma surgeons at Forbes Hospital, Monroeville, Pa., are now using Google Glass to integrate prompts during trauma patient resuscitation, and will use the technology to access software with hands-free, immediate access to critical information.

"With this new technology, surgeons will have hands-free access to critical information." Christoph Kaufmann, MD, Trauma Medical Director, Forbes Hospital

Surgeons at the Forbes Hospital Trauma Center, part of the Allegheny Health Network, are exploring an innovative use of Google Glass technology, along with new software called Visual Info Zonal Reminder (VIZR), to assist in the care of critically injured patients.

Introduced in 2013, Google Glass is a wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display that provides information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands.

Forbes’ trauma surgeons are among the first in the country to investigate use of the technology in the patient care setting. The initial application of Google Glass at Forbes will be the integration of prompts during trauma patient resuscitation based on checklists similar to those used in the aviation industry.

"With this new technology, surgeons will have hands-free, immediate access to critical information, checklists and reminders specific to injury categories that will greatly assist in our efforts to provide effective, timely care that saves lives,” said Christoph R. Kaufmann, MD, Trauma Medical Director, Forbes Hospital.

VIZR is being used exclusively at Forbes Hospital. The software features information on a wide range of traumatic injuries. For example, if a pregnant patient with injuries to the abdomen is in transport to the emergency department, the surgeon can voice command a checklist with crucial questions to ask the EMS upon arrival or even prior to arrival.

Once a patient program is initiated, a timer begins that provides important prompts and reminders to the trauma team every few minutes.

“This technology will also be useful during mass casualty events,” Dr. Kaufmann said. The technology is meant to augment the surgical team’s skills and training, to serve as a time-saving resource, not replace the surgeon’s knowledge of what to do in a traumatic event.

The software was adapted from military-style checklists for triaging wounded in the battlefield to keep on track while caring for single or multiple patients with life-threatening injuries Google Glass also has promise as a tool to assist in the training of emergency and trauma specialists.

The Google Glass technology being used at Forbes has been modified so it does not record photos or videos in the hospital setting, ensuring that patient privacy is not compromised.

Editors Note: For a demonstration of the Google Glass technology and VIZR software at Forbes, please call Jesse Miller at 412.389.6815.

About Forbes Hospital:

As part of the Allegheny Health Network, Forbes Hospital is a 346-bed facility in Monroeville, serving as the provider of quality health care for residents of Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs. Forbes annually admits more than 15,000 patients and logs more than 50,000 visits to the emergency department. Offering sophisticated medicine and care with the added convenience of a community hospital, Forbes provides a complete array of surgical, medical, rehabilitative and emergency care. In addition to offering a spectrum of specialty services such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, oncology, stroke care, endocrinology, behavioral health, and obstetrics, the facility houses the Cardiovascular Institute, the Women’s and Infants’ Care Center, the Joint and Spine Center, and Breast Care Center. Forbes also received Level II trauma accreditation from the state as of October, 1, 2013, becoming the only trauma center in the city’s eastern suburbs. Forbes’ trauma team is comprised of critical care trained surgeons, trauma physician assistants and nurses specially trained to manage traumatic injuries. The team is on-site 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

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Dan Laurent