Google Glass is a hit at the hospital


Outside patient rooms at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center there’s a Quick Response (QR) code on the wall. It is key to a new way doctors are doing things there.

The Boston, Massachusetts hospital is using Google Glass in the emergency department. Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer, set it up. “The idea that you could wear a computer and walk into a patient’s room, not have to touch anything, and have all the information in front of you is very helpful.” Halamka also noticed patients like it when doctors look at them.

The advantages:

  • infection control
  • real-time information
  • patient-centric
  • weighs next to nothing
  • batteries last a whole shift

Before the doctor walks into the room he or she looks at a QR code on the wall. Google Glass then picks up the information about the patient  including triage notes, medical problems, medications and the doctor sees it. Dr. Halamka explains it here. He tried out Google Glass and came up with five healthcare applications which he details in his blog.

Because security is a concern, Beth Israel engineered its software so that no data stays on the glasses themselves. Halamka says, “Think of it as a secure web application accessing our hospital’s web application.” As soon as the doctor takes off the glasses the data is gone.

A full roll-out of Google Glass is underway in the emergency department. Halamka expects more doctors in this hospital and others to start using it.

Doctor’s home visit is back — kind of — as telehealth flourishes nationwide

From the Omaha World-Herald:

There is nothing futuristic about telehealth, the use of technology to connect patients to doctors without an office visit.

Telehealth is flourishing and growing rapidly in Nebraska, Iowa and nationwide. It uses long-standing technology such as videoconferencing and telephones as well as emerging devices that enable patients to track and deliver their own heart rates and blood sugar levels.

“This is like the tsunami. So much is happening. Technology is changing really rapidly. Legislation is changing,” said Mandi Constantine, who was hired 15 months ago as executive director of telehealth for the Nebraska Medical Center to hasten the hospital’s efforts. 

Telehealth proponents say it’s a struggle for laws and rules to keep up. The Nebraska Legislature, for instance, is considering an amendment that would require the state Medicaid program to cover remote monitoring of patients by technology. 

Among other things, the amendment also would remove the requirement that a patient be at least 30 miles from the doctor in a videoconference consultation for that interaction to be reimbursed by Medicaid.

“We’re just trying to eliminate as many barriers to it (telehealth) as possible,” said State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, who introduced the legislation.

Patient Satisfaction Scores in the ER Are Not Affected by Receipt of Painkillers


Factors other than receipt of painkillers – including opiates – in the emergency department appear to be more important to patient satisfaction, as reflected in an analysis of Press Ganey® patient surveys to be published online today in Annals of Emergency Medicine (“Lack of Association between Press Ganey® Emergency Department Patient Satisfaction Scores and Emergency Department Administration of Analgesic Medications”).

“The lack of connection between painkillers and patient satisfaction is frankly the opposite of what we expected to find,” said lead study author Tayler Schwartz of Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, R.I. “Our research shows that emergency physicians can administer painkillers, including opiates, based on clinical and patient factors without concern for the effect on patient satisfaction scores.”

Ms. Schwartz and her team analyzed Press Ganey® patient satisfaction surveys and electronic medical records for 4,749 patients discharged from two hospitals. Of those patients, 48.5 percent received analgesic medications in the emergency department, and of the patients who received analgesics, 60.9 percent received opiates.

After controlling for different variables, researchers found no relationship between Press Ganey® emergency department patient satisfaction scores and the receipt of analgesic medications or opiate analgesics. Higher patient satisfaction scores were connected to increasing age and male gender.