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Maine Trauma Surgeon Explores Google Glass Connection with Paramedics

The doctor can now see the injuries firsthand and tells the paramedic exactly what to do to limit any potential complications while they make the long journey south to Bangor. It's hypothetical situations such as these that have prompted Dr. Rafael Grossmann, a trauma surgeon at EMMC, to become a Glass explorer.

"Eastern Maine Medical Center, at any one time with one surgeon on call, covers an area larger than Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont put together," Grossmann said. "It's difficult to reach out to all these places, that's why we use tele-medicine."

Grossmann spoke on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Foster Center for Student Innovation on his experience using Google Glass to further his research in tele-medicine. Grossmann is one of 6,000 people nationwide that have been selected by Google to trial a pre-production version of Google Glass and provide feedback to the company on what Google Glass could be used for.

Google glass is like something straight out of Star Trek. It consists of a wrap around heads-up display that is worn like a pair of sunglasses. On the right side of the frame there is an arm that extends out in front of the frame with a small screen that simulates a 27-inch screen six feet away. It is basically a head-mounted computer with the ability to surf the internet, take pictures and video, and web chat among other things. It can connect to local wi-fi networks or tether to a bluetooth device or smartphone and feed off that device's 3G or 4G network.

In February, 2013, Google created the Glass explorer program to allow professional consumers to trial Google Glass and provide feedback as to what the new technology could be used for in the professional world. Participants signed up by posting a 50-word message on Twitter with the hashtag "ifihadglass," detailing what they would do with the product.

For his work with tele-medicine, Grossmann was given a pair and has grown to love the technology immensely.

"As soon as I saw Google Glass, I had a wild moment [and thought about] how this device can help treat patients in better ways," Grossmann said. "I wrote my vision and my thought of how Glass would be a great tool for healthcare. I was lucky enough to get [Google Glass]."

Due to the wide area of Maine that EMMC serves, it is important for trauma patients that aren't close to Bangor to have good on site attention so that their chances of living and making it to the hospital are improved. With Google Glass, Grossmann sees an opportunity to assist patients by treating them via video conference.

"[Patients] that can't be treated at a local hospital need specialized care, so we used to use a phone to get a picture of the trauma." Grossmann said. "The longer the travel time between the time of trauma and the time of decisive care, the higher the mortality. You need to extradite care in some way and tele-medicine is a way."

The idea is that whoever is treating the patient can activate a video conference with their Google Glass and connect to whatever specialist would be best suited to assist the patient. The specialist would then be able to see everything that the physician is seeing, allowing the specialist to guide the physician step-by-step through the treatment process without actually having to be there.

On June 20, Grossmann put Google Glass to the test in the operating room for the first time. Grossmann was able to insert a feeding tube while wearing Google Glass and streaming the whole procedure from his perspective to an ipad in the other room. According to Grossmann, it was a simple experiment and a simple procedure, but it shows that Google Glass can be used by surgeons in the OR.

David Grant, a sophomore political science major and Glass explorer was also on hand at the event. After finding out about the Google Glass program David tweeted #ifihadglass with the idea of "revolutionizing the college tour experience." To help with Grant's idea, UMaine's division of marketing and communications helped cover the $1,500 purchase price as well as back his efforts.

"This year I'm marketing the University through the mission of the division of marketing and communications," Grant said. "We're using tumblr to upload images taken by not only me, but Team Maine members who live the UMaine life ... I've been taking photos when I'm playing intramural soccer or walking down the street.

"You can give someone a tour without them even being there," Grant said.

As a member of the Glass explorers community, Grant posts feedback and ideas for possible updates on his google account along with other explorers. This allows him to contribute to the pool of ideas among the explorers as well as access to Google's tech support program that posts new apps and updates that come down the pipeline. Grant is very optimistic about the possibilities of Google Glass.

"Some of the ideas [Grossmann] had hadn't even crossed my mind. The sky's the limit with these things," Grant said.


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