Google Glass Goes to Medical School

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Two fourth-year students at The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix received one of about 6,000 Google Glass units distributed earlier this year. Jeff Tully and Christian Dameff were awarded the new high-tech glasses after entering a contest they found via social media.

“Google Glass is a wearable computer in the shape of eyeglasses,” Dameff explained. The glasses allow the wearer to “see” a computer screen and Tweet, check Facebook and access the Internet, all through the mobility of the eyewear. “Here at the College of Medicine – Phoenix, we see huge potential for using Google Glass in medical education,” Dameff said.

Tully and Dameff first heard about the opportunity to win the Glass when Google sponsored a contest on its Twitter page in January, asking contestants to submit a short summary of their intended use for the technology.

Dameff and Tully came up with the idea to use Google Glass to assist with advanced cardiac life support for individuals experiencing cardiac arrest or other life-threatening medical emergency.

“We thought Glass would be very helpful for assisting someone in remembering those steps,” Tully said.

Tully and Dameff drew up a scenario of what a simulation lab would look like through Google Glass. The company liked the idea.

Phoenix NBC affiliate Channel 12 visited the College of Medicine to film a segment about the Glass, with City of Phoenix firefighters and “Jim,” a high-fidelity mannequin. The first responders were assisting Jim after he fell from a ladder and was impaled in the chest by a pair of scissors.

One of the first responders wore the glasses and communicated with Dameff and Tully, who posed as ER doctors. The responders were able to give a detailed report to the two students, who gave the responders directions to further assist the patient.

The simulation exercise represented what Dameff and Tully hope Google Glass can accomplish in real-world medicine: enhanced pre-hospital care. “Receiving important information on the fly can help us save lives,” Dameff said. “When you can live-stream an image from the scene, it gives physicians so much more information. They can make the appropriate decision to help save the patient’s life.”

Dameff said the biggest barrier to using this technology was the infrastructure needed to implement it. But with Google Glass and Wi-Fi connectivity, the potentially life-saving technology can be used in emergency vehicles.

“Every clinician – doctor, paramedic, nurse – that has had the opportunity to use Google Glass has been excited about the technology,” Dameff said. “New ideas pop up every time we show these to people. This type of inspirational technology really allows people to think outside the box.”

Tully, originally from Los Angeles, and Dameff, a Tucson native, said they are the only medical students working with the Glass on their own.

“Google Glass can apply to a whole host of emergencies where every second counts,” Dameff said.