Why Hospitals Are Hesitant to Use Google Glass

In December, a surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco became the first in the country to receive approval from the Institutional Review Board to use Google Glass during surgery.

The technology allows Pierre Theodore, MD, to pre-load CT and X-ray images into the device, and then to see them during surgery in his peripheral vision, allowing him to compare the medical scan with the surgical site without taking his eyes off the patient.

By allowing surgeons to see these images and other patient information during a procedure, Google Glass can help reduce surgical errors, said Google Glass user and proponent Rafael Grossman, MD, a surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, in a recent TEDx talk.

So why haven't more hospitals rushed to get Google Glass into their operating rooms?

"We are struggling with the limitations" of what is legally allowed under HIPAA, Rasu Shrestha, MD, vice president of medical information technology at Pittsburgh-based UPMC, told The Wall Street Journal. Currently, Google does not offer business associate agreements for Glass, meaning hospitals have to take additional steps to ensure HIPAA compliance when using the technology. When Christopher Kaeding, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, used Google Glass to live-stream an ACL surgery, he had to obtain the written consent of the patient prior to the procedure, something that would not be practical to do on a hospitalwide scale.

Although Google has made BAAs available for some of its offerings, including Gmail and its cloud platform, a Google spokesperson told the Journal not to anticipate the same for Google Glass. "It's a consumer device meant to work for a broad range of people in lots of different settings," the spokesperson said.

More Articles on Google Glass:

Google's Cloud is Now HIPAA-Friendly
How Google Glass Can Make Wrong-Side Surgery a True "Never Event"
UCSF First to Receive IRB Approval to Use Google Glass During Surgery

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