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How Google Glass Can Restore Eye Contact in the Exam Room

When patients invest so much time and money (even those who aren’t paying directly) to see a doctor, they really deserve eye-contact.

A recent study by eMarketer shows that the average American spends more than five hours per day with their eyes glued to a computer or mobile screen. The growth of multi-tasking by way of technology has normalized the experience of conversing without eye contact – even in the exam room where life-and-death conversations are taking place!


Image Credit Wikimedia Commons, Antonio Zugaldia

It’s Like Texting While Driving

I don’t know about you, but I only get about 7 minutes with my doctor, twice a year at the most. It really doesn’t help if he’s working on the computer for half that time. And the problem will likely be worse with the implementation of Meaningful Use 2, which requires physicians to enter orders directly into the EHR.

Helen Greff writes an article on where she compares doctors’ use of EHRs during a patient visit to texting while you’re driving. I couldn’t agree more. Patients feel ignored and disrespected when doctors don’t look at them. What’s more I think there are many non-verbal signs that doctors often miss when they’re not looking directly at a patient.

Trust Matters

Why is this important? Because doctors who maintain eye-contact with patients are deemed to be more likeable and more empathetic according to a study by Northwestern Medicine. If patients feel like their doctors don’t care, they’re less likely to return to that doctor or take their advice – both very costly consequences for the healthcare system.

Google Glass to the rescue

That’s why I think Google Glass looks promising in solving this problem. Already there’s research being done to see how effective this technology could be in enhancing surgical procedures.

The same concept could be applied to doctor-patient interactions in the exam room. Wearing the device, the doctor would be able to access and update a patient’s vital records. For example a dermatologist could easily take a picture of a patient’s mole using Glass, compare it to a database of skin cancers, and determine the risk for melanoma, all without having to turn away and lose eye-contact with the patient.

Visual tools are part of the future of digital technology so it only makes sense that Google Glass would be integrated with EHRs. If a technology like Google Glass helps to foster a more collaborative partnership between doctor and patient then it’s certainly worth implementing. It may not be for everyone but in the right setting it could be incredibly useful. Don’t you think?

Over to You

Do you see a bright future for Google Glass and EHR integration?

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