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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

May 21 2012   10:30AM GMT

Google Glass meets RTLS, NLP, and big data the hospital of the future

Posted by: RedaChouffani
android, BIG DATA, google glass, NLP

This year we have seen some truly amazing innovations in the healthcare arena.  We continue to hear about the breakthroughs in the drug industry for cancer treatment, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. On the technology front, voice recognition and interactive systems have reached new heights, the incredible power of natural language understanding, data collection and retrieval being seen in next generation platform’s such as IBM’s Watson.  Not to mention the impact that mobile devices have had on the healthcare industry as well, with all of these advancements and innovations continuing to influence our lives every day.

Things can get a bit more interesting for healthcare professionals when evaluating how some of the current innovations in the test phase can assist in care delivery. Specifically, what do you get when you add RTLS, gig data, cloud computing and NLP to Google’s Project Glass?

Well, the easy answer is an incredible device that could change the way clinicians use technology to treat patients and deliver the highest quality of care.  Google Glasses are a kind of wearable computing device, and while the current prototype only plans to initially bring GPS tracking, phone, camera, and search engine results, in a healthcare setting, this platform — combined with many currently available technologies — can bring significant improvement and a shift in the way physicians interact with their patients and surroundings.

Delivery of health information:

During many of today’s most common surgeries, surgeons can easily benefit from the availability of a patient’s vitals displayed directly onto the glasses.  There is also the use case where the physician performing rounds enters a patient’s room and is immediately flashed the pertinent patient information, such as name, latest lab stats, and other test results, enabling a timely, more informed episode of care.

Taking orders:

With the availability of commercialized NLP and intelligent voice recognition engines such as Nuance CLU, a physician can submit orders and document the encounter without touching a keyboard or using transcription services.  Not only would NLP facilitate interacting with electronic health records (EHRs), but also enable information to be stored in a structured format.


When looking the functionality developed around location tracking and GPS, we have seen products ranging from apps that automatically prompt restaurant reviews when nearby and location based profiles where ring tones and settings are configured based on your location, to augmented reality apps that uses your Android camera, compass and GPS position to add info on your surroundings as you go.

Contextual information:

Mobile devices provide multiple ways for information delivery and can be, at times, overwhelming.  However, many begin to quickly suffer from alert fatigues and information overload.  But if a device can deliver relevant information based on location, and the patient who the physician is visiting, then any information such as returned lab results and such would allow to clinician to discuss with patient immediately while in the room. This would increase efficiency and improve patient satisfaction.

Big data:

As more health data is collected from different sources for patients — data such as calorie intake from mobile apps, information from medical records from other physicians, DNA sequencing, and the like — complex patient risk analysis combined with powerful cloud computing systems and interoperability will provide physicians with an incredible amount of information regarding the patient they are treating.  All this information can be displayed via Google Glass.

Imagine a physician during a conversation with a patient who is told about a previous health condition for which the patient was treated and then the Google Glass platform is able to immediately query the information from an HIE and retrieve all the details available so that the physician can have immediate visibility of the medical notes and make any relevant changes or decisions based on adequate and comprehensive data.

While these ideas may seem to be too unrealistic and futuristic, the fact of the matter is that all these devices and technologies are being piloted in different environments today.  For healthcare professionals, these devices should be monitored closely as they can significantly help reduce costs, improve patient’s satisfaction and increase efficiency.  And until a computing device can read our thoughts (there are technologies being tested today for this), we will need to embrace the changes and innovations coming our way.

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