Wearable Technology: More behind Surgery than Meets Eye
American researchers will feast their eyes this week on the first overseas surgery using Google Glass, a cross between a mobile computer and eyeglasses that can both record video and surf the Internet, and potentially – more importantly — revolutionize healthcare.
A 49-year-old man will enter the record books when he goes under the knife in Madrid, Spain, for a chondrocyte transplant operation, but the tech giant knows there’s more to meet the eye behind the procedure than its traditional surgical protocol — to treat cartilage injuries.
The surgery, to be carried out at the capital’s CEMTRO Clinic, will be the first operation in the world involving the assistance of “augmented-reality” glasses, in which internet viewers will be able to follow the proceedings.
Researchers at Stanford University hope to – simultaneously — see themselves how the stamp-sized electronic screen that mounts on the left side of a pair of eyeglass frames can operate under medical conditions. The wearable technology will enable them to monitor the procedure in real-time online and consult with the Spanish team of doctors as well.
A Maine surgeon made high-tech history earlier in the week when he brought the latest innovation from Google into a United States operating room when he performed a gastrostomy, or the placement of a feeding tube.
“By performing and documenting this event, I wanted to show that this device and its platform, are certainly intuitive tools that have a great potential in healthcare, and specifically for surgery, could allow better intra-operative consultations, surgical mentoring and potentiate remote medical education, in a very simple way,” wrote Dr. Rafael Grossmann, a surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center who performed the endoscopic procedure, what he called a “poor man’s version” of the Google technology.
Experts believe Google’s new technology will revolutionize the field of health and bridge existing gaps that prevent access to care by allowing doctors to instantly collect and record patient information, take high-definition pictures and connect with other medical professionals.
Just think about the abrupt and subtle changes the internet has made in the way healthcare consumers go about their business. An information pool already exists for even short-sighted novices to jump into and look at signs, symptoms, diagnoses and the management of conditions that affect them, their relatives and help both make timely and efficient decisions about their health.
In all, 80 percent of internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online, according to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The curious can find answers to questions about quality, pricing and locations – even if it means traveling some 3,500 miles away.
The Medical Tourism Association®, for one, regularly posts timely and provocative news that helps patients or their loved ones indentify affordable treatments and procedures that combine a short vacation without compromising quality. In the next few months, the nonprofit organizations’ top-rated internet portal – www.medicaltourism.com – will be adding thousands of informative web pages that health consumers and professionals can sort through for relevant background and advice.
Many of those resources can be seen through the eyes of Google Glass, which has already won over many fans because it can record video, access email, provide turn-by-turn driving directions and retrieve information from the web through wireless connections to a user’s cell phone. Many believe wearable computers represent the next big shift in technology, just as smart phones evolved from personal computers. Apple and Samsung are said to be working on other forms of wearable technology.
While the device has tech geeks all aflutter, the innovation is unnerving everyone from lawmakers to casino operators, who are worried about the potential for hitherto unimagined privacy and policy violations.
Only earlier this month, Spain had launched sanction proceedings against Google Inc., for suspected serious breaches of data protection laws, acting just hours after France threatened the group with big fines. The Spanish Data Protection Agency said it found evidence of five serious privacy law breaches — each punishable with fines of up to €300,000 ($395,000).
SPDPA had investigated Google’s new policy, introduced last year, which enables the corporation to track the activity of users across its search engine, Gmail, the Google+ social networking platform and other services it owns, which include YouTube.
The changes make it easier for Google to collect and process data that could be used by advertisers to target individuals with offers tailored to their specific interests, thereby increasing the company’s revenue potential.