At least four startups are now focused on Google Glass apps for doctors

By Aditi Pai

AugmedixThis week, Google opened Google Glass sales to the general public for one day only and before the day ended the limited supply of Glass devices that Google offered sold out. While there is clearly some demand for the wearable device, another camp is more skeptical about the role Google Glass will play in the life of consumers and professionals.

One prediction is that Google Glass will find greater success in professional settings, like in healthcare facilities as tools for physicians and other staff. While it's still unclear whether Google Glass will be a viable longterm option for either healthcare providers or consumers, Google Glass has already inspired a handful of entrepreneurs to launch startups focused wholly on a Glass-enabled offering for physicians.

Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Chief Innovation Officer John Halamka told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview that Glass could have the potential to be the new iPad. Beth Israel is also working with a startup called Wearable Intelligence that develops enterprise offerings using Google Glass, which Halamka has used while working in the emergency department. The startup has developed multiple apps for Glass that will help providers in an doctor's office setting.

One program, Director, aims to improve workflow for doctors. It can be used to dictate messages or retrieve information from clinical systems. Mentor, another program, allows healthcare providers to take point-of-view videos and photos that they can sent to colleagues who will consult the information and provide recommendations. And Informant offers near-realtime data to the clinician while he is with a patient so that the clinician can have contextual information about the patient while he or she is treating the patient.

Another company, Pristine, advertises the fact that it offers a stripped-down version of Glass in order to keep it HIPAA compliant. So far, the company has launched two products, EyeSight and CheckLists. EyeSight streams near-real time audio and video from Glass to authorized iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and PCs so that, among other uses, wound care nurses can transmit point-of-view video to a physician, emergency responders can send relevant video and information to hospital staff who are preparing to treat the patient, and surgeons can send a livestream of a surgery from their point of view to residents, fellows, and surgeons at other medical centers.

CheckLists helps physicians reduce errors by allowing them to launch any list they want to refer to, for example a surgical timeout checklist, asystole checklist, and cardiac arrest checklist. Voice activation launches any checklist. 

Pristine removed Glass' integration with Google+, Gmail, Maps, Search, and other apps before deploying it into patient care environments, which according to the company makes Glass "a controlled, HIPAA compliant, enterprise appliance". The Pristine-modified Google Glass also isn’t connected to the internet — it just streams live, encrypted video and audio directly to a receiver.

Clients of Pristine include Brown University and University of California Irvine. A Rhode Island Hospital has also begun a feasability study using Pristine and Google Glass to provide dermatology consultations to patients in the emergency room. For six months, emergency room patients who require a dermatology consult and consent to the study will be examined by ER physicians wearing a Pristine version of Google Glass. The wearable will transmit images to an off-site dermatologist, who will access them via a tablet. If this study goes well, Rhode Island Hospital hopes to see many other telemedicine applications for Glass, including pediatric consults, stroke care, and emergency response.

Augmedix, which offers a Google Glass clinical documentation program for physicians, has already graduated out of an accelerator, Rock Health, with funding and early data from doctors who have used the program. Augmedix now has 36 employees, is venture-backed, and is “hiring across the board”, according to Cofounder Ian Shakil. The company did a study in the fall of 2013 to see if 300 patients at three different pilot sites would be comfortable if their doctors were using Google Glass, they found 99 percent were comfortable with it.

When Augmedix launches, the patients won’t just “walk into the room and see the doctor wearing Google Glass,” the staff at Augmedix will explain the concept, why the doctor could wear it and address any concerns around privacy. Augmedix also raised $3.2 million last month in a round led by DCM and Emergence Capital Partners, an investment firm that has also invested in Doximity and Welltok. The company also stripped off the features of Google Glass that make it less secure. Instead of transmitting information through Google, the company transmits information through a secure portal that they have certified with their doctor customer groups.

One of the newer companies, Remedy, founded by Thiel Fellow Noor Siddiqui and former University of Pennsylvania medical student Gina Siddiqui, focuses on sending point-of-view media to a remote expert for consultation. Remedy's app Beam provides physicians with secure, first-person video streaming so that they can collaborate with other experts in the field. On their Demo conference page, the company lists Cisco, GE, and Siemens telepresence as competitors.