The Longevity

After 2 Years in Stealth Mode, Google Glass Unveiled its Enterprise Edition

Alphabet initially launched Google Glass as a consumer wearable that by most assessments spectacularly crashed and burned. Last week, they publicly unveiled the Enterprise Edition, although it turns out a number of mHealth companies have already been quietly testing the smartglasses in healthcare settings through Google’s Glass at Work program.

Google’s unveiling last week of Glass EE might have been big news in some circles, but healthcare providers have been working with mHealth companies like Augmedix and Pristine for some time now on the second version of the smartglass model.

If anything, experts say, the publicity surrounding Glass EE might bring health system and entrepreneurs out of the shadows to show off what has been working all along for clinicians.

Augmedix CEO Ian Shakil reports that during this quiet development period, “there was no shortage of ideas” on how to use Google Glass EE.

[Augmedix]…has received some $40 million in funding and partnered with a handful of large health systems over the past year on testing and using the newest version of the smartglasses in clinical settings. “If anything, I think you’re starting to see a consolidation of ideas” as healthcare refines its uses for the wearable.

Michigan-based Trinity Health, [to look at another example], is getting ready to test the new Google Glass EE….as a mobile clinical assistant for home health workers. The health system is partnering with swyMed, a developer of video visit technologies, to test the smartglasses in home visits by Loyola University Health System practitioners in Maywood, Ill.

…The high-tech visits will be overseen by nurse leaders or practicing physicians, with the goal of determining whether the smartglasses can improve care coordination and foster better collaboration between home-based patients – such as those with chronic conditions – and their care teams.

[Capers Harper, Loyola’s manager of virtual medicine] calls the smartglasses “just another tool in the kit to bring back the house call…Caring for patients in their own homes is rewarding and educational for students in the healthcare industry…It helps them relate and empathize with patients and ensures that care transitions are smooth and medications are taken correctly. This could improve the chance of positive outcomes for patients with complicated health histories.”

What has been improved in this latest version of Google Glass?

Aside from a sleeker appearance, Google Glass EE offers improvements in what Shakil once called the “not-so-sexy areas,” like battery power, CPU performance, Wi-Fi capability and software upgrades.  

Shakil says Google Glass EE still has battery life issues, especially since Augmedix views the digital health device as an all-day-every-day clinician’s companion, offering instant access to data when and where the wearer needs it. He hopes Google will continue to work on refining battery life and wireless capabilities.

“Doctors are really, really hard to please, but they see a lot of value in [smartglasses] when they’re standing in front of the patient,” he told during an interview this past January. “It allows them to have a dramatically more humane conversation with patients and saves two to three hours a day, maybe more, in administrative work.”

That point may be seen in Augmedix’ business arc. The company has secured roughly $40 million in new funding over the past year, and Shakil says they’ve doubled the number of health system partners in that time as well, from six to 12.

“The market is definitely there,” he said.

And it may grow, now that Google Glass EE has come out of the shadows.

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