Skip to content

Abraham Verghese uses Google Glass to demonstrate how to begin a patient exam

Updated 07-30-13: A change was made to the last paragraph.


A strong advocate for “hands-on” medicine, Stanford physician Abraham Verghese, MD, led the effort to develop the Stanford Medicine 25. The initiative includes a series of hands-on workshops teaching 25 essential techniques for examining patients.

In this recently posted video, Verghese donned Google Glass and offers a first-person perspective of how he would approach a patient and begin examining the individual's pulse and hand. Interested to know more about how those involved with the Stanford Medicine 25 initiative intend to use the Google Glass in other settings, I reached out to Verghese and his colleague Errol Ozdalga, MD, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford.

Ozdalga acquired the device after applying to Google's Glass Explorer program. In his application, Ozdalga wrote, "I'm a physician with a strong interest in the combination of technology and health care who builds websites to teach medical students and colleagues. #ifihadglass I would use it to improve patient care, teach medicine and change the way I live my life!"

To his surprise he was awarded the Google Glass. He told me:

The truth is, I really didn't know exactly what I'd use Google Glass for when I got one. I just knew I'd love it and find a way to use it in medicine. Since we create videos teaching the physical exam, we thought it would be a wonderful use of Google Glass to show the exam from the examiner's point of view.

Ozdalga and Verghese plan to use the technology in other medical settings in the future. Ozdalga explains:

I would love to use it while caring for patients, but we have to be careful to protect patient privacy. Recording patients in the hospital can be legally challenging. We are also working on doing a live session with Dr. Verghese visiting a patient in the hospital while a classroom of residents and students are connected via video chat. It would be like a classroom of learners surrounding the patient without leaving the room. The most valuable teaching in medicine happens when patients are involved. We may be able to use Google Glass to bring the patient into the classroom without leaving his or her bed!

The next video we are producing for Stanford Medicine 25 involves John Kugler, MD, a clinical assistant professor who plays the role of patient in the above video. Dr. Kugler does a lot of bedside ultrasound teaching and we plan to film a video of him using Google Glass.

Other physicians are also experimenting with using Google Glass in the operating room and medical education. On the potential of this and other technologies to improve medicine, Ozdalga said, "I personally think that the effect Google Glass has in patient care is going to take time to develop but it will eventually play a great role as technology is more accepted and the devices become more discrete."

Previously: Abraham Verghese discusses reconnecting to the patient at the bedside, Stanford AIM Lab launches patient exam iPad app, Abraham Verghese discusses the importance of hands-on patient exams, Stanford’s Abraham Verghese discusses the power of touch and observation in the exam room and Exploring the “fading art” of the physical exam

Popular posts