Photo by Laurie Bailey.

The trauma team at Forbes Hospital has broken new ground with the use of Google Glass technology and a new software called Visual Info Zonal Reminder (VIZR) to treat critically injured patients.

While other hospitals are using Google Glass for various purposes, Forbes Hospital is the first and only hospital in the country to be using the VIZR software technology with the device.

“With this technology I can actually review patient care on the way to the emergency department or on my way to a trauma alert,” says Christoph R. Kaufmann, MD, trauma medical director at Forbes Hospital.

By tapping on the device, or by voice or eyeball activation, the wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display provides preloaded slides containing checklist information, similar to a PowerPoint presentation. A new set of checklists are displayed every couple of minutes, he explains.

The VIZR software was developed by Alex Guerrero, MD, a trauma surgeon from New York who developed the program based on an obvious need.

“One of the keys to trauma surgery is to maintain situational awareness, not losing track of what’s going on in the room,” he says.

After years of using his own methods of timed checklists, including kitchen timers, note cards and cell phone alerts, Guerrero jumped on the idea of creating a logistical checklist program when Google Glass was developed in 2013.

“My job as the trauma surgeon is to be the team leader and to make sure that things are happening at the right time,” says Kaufmann. The technology allows him to ensure other medical personnel in the room are taking care of every aspect of optimal patient care – like calling for CT scans or alerting the operating room of a new patient – while putting on his own gown and gloves or inserting a chest tube.

“The biggest advantage is to get reminders about things in the midst of a difficult resuscitation,” he says.

One of the checklists included in the system is for the care of the pregnant trauma patient. It will give reminders such as turning the patient to the left side to take the pressure of the uterus off their inferior vena cava or to send a blood sample to confirm the patient’s Rh factor.

The software provides trauma operating room reminders such as when to communicate with the anesthesiologist, give antibiotics, call to prepare the ICU, and start transfusion protocol so that the blood bank knows to send units of blood.

The Google Glass technology used at Forbes has been modified so it does not record photos or videos in the hospital setting, ensuring that patient privacy is not compromised.

Kaufmann and five other members of the Forbes trauma team can wear their Google glasses, set up with their individual eyeglass prescriptions, all the time. They can activate the system while treating a patient. The glasses were not difficult to adjust to nor are they distracting, he notes.

“I think this will be generalizable to other specialties in the future, but trauma surgeons are the fighter pilots of medicine. We have the most intense job with the most time sensitive nature and with the most technology applied,” says Kaufmann.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.