Health

Doctors in smart glasses are using the ‘Pokémon Go’ of medicine

By Kitty Knowles 29 August 2017
Summary

Making smart doctors even smarter.

Everyone wants their doctor to be calm, friendly and informed.

But as health systems around the world come under increasing pressure, many are time-stretched and bogged down by paperwork that leaves them stressed and unable to squeeze out an assuring smile.

Entrepreneur Ian Shakil wants to change that, with a tool that doctors can use with Google’s high-tech ‘Google Glass’ smart glasses.

“Augmedix allows doctors to focus on what matters most: patient care,” the co-founder and CEO tells The Memo.

Pokémon Go for doctors

To understand how Augmedix works you can imagine a sort of Pokémon Go for doctors.

But instead of seeing cute little monsters projected in the world on their smartphone screen, doctors wear ‘smart glasses’ that place useful information, images and data in their field of view.

“Both Augmedix and Pokémon Go are part of an umbrella we call ‘assisted reality’,” Shakil explains – but Augmedix is hands-free!

What’s more Augmedix can be used to record and upload data too, without the doctor having to leave the patient.

Bringing back face-to-face care

The hope is that tools like Augmedix can help to bring back a better doctor-patient interaction that Shakil describes todqy as being “tragically broken”.

“Most doctors spend more than a third of their day on the computer, typing and documenting. This creates immense burnout for thousands of doctors, and it also degrades the sacred doctor-patient bond,” he explains.

It’s a situation Shakil’s co-founder Pelu Tran experienced first hand at Stanford. “Pelu dropped out of medical school, after seeing first hand the tremendous strains and inefficiencies in frontline healthcare,” Shakil recalls.

Big benefits

While it might sound strange, Augmedix benefits doctors and patients alike, says Shakil.

Suveys conducted by the company show a 98% patient acceptance rate across demographics – that’s less than 2% of patients asking their doctor not to use Google Glass.

Asked if doctors ever find it distracting, Shakil says “quite the opposite” is true.

“It enhances doctor-patient interaction with increased patient satisfaction, and increased focus on the patient,” says Shakil. “It saves doctors time, reducing charting time by 2-3 hours per day – and it improves health records, delivering better, more accurate documentation.”

“We want doctors to feel rekindled and fall in love with the practice of medicine, and we want patients to feel tended to, with their doctors looking at them, asking more focused questions, and generally going much deeper.”

Will your doctor wear smart glasses?

Augmedix is already gaining traction in the US, now used in a dozen of the nation’s health systems.

Some of these, including Sutter Health and Dignity Health (Northern California), Englewood (New Jersey), Catholic Health Initiatives (Colorado), and TriHealth (Cincinnati), have even decided to invest in the company.

Going forward the team are even extending their tools to put all the data they collect to good use. Augmedix is now, for example, rolling out a product called ‘Care Assist’ that provides carefully curated nudges to help doctors fill chronic care gaps they might otherwise have missed.

“We want to be the essential tool, the veritable stethoscope, for doctors,” says Shakil.

It might not be as fun as Pokémon Go – but its saving lives.