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Google Glass Startups Claim: Not Dead Yet

Google Glass Startups Claim: Not Dead Yet | Healthcare and Technology news |

Last week, Google GOOGL -1.44% announced that it’s shuttering its consumer-end operation for Google Glass. As of this week, the product is no longer available for purchase by consumers. For startups using Google Glass to revolutionize healthcare, that poses a problem, right? You’d think.

Not so, insist the entrepreneurs. They claim it’s good news. There’s still a huge opportunity in the enterprise market – that is, selling these funny computerized spectacles to businesses. Google is still working with a select group of ten “Glass Certified Partners,” listed on the company’s Glass at Work page. Four of them (AMA, Augmedix, Pristine, and Wearable Intelligence) are focused at least partly on putting Glass on the faces of physicians or other healthcare workers.

“Glass at Work has been growing and we’re seeing incredible developments with Glass in the workplace,” Google said in a prepared statement. “As we look to the road ahead, we realize that we’ve outgrown the lab and so we’re officially ‘graduating’ from Google[x] to be our own team here at Google.” That team will be helmed by Tony Fadell, whose last major project was co-founding Nest, the smart-thermostat company acquired by Google last year.

“Our accelerating expansion plans continue,” says Ian Shakil, chief executive of Augmedix, a startup that aims to help doctors automate medical recordkeeping via Glass. “Our supply of Glass v1 remains unaffected. Google’s support is unaffected.”

Just the day before Google’s own announcement, Augmedix announced the completion of a $16 million Series A funding round. But Pelu Tran, the company’s chief product officer (and a member of this year’s 30 Under 30 list in healthcare) said in a previous interview that this was the same path that smartphones followed. “We focus on providing a service delivered via Google Glass and I think that right now Google Glass is doing quite well in enterprise. If you look at Glass as a consumer and you look at what tablets are like and what smartphones are like, if you look at the early days, you see that they started in enterprise. For the next couple of years, that will be Glass.”

Chase Feiger, founder and director of business development at Wearable Intelligence, goes so far as to say the announcement is actually improving business. “Google’s announcement has and will continue to be beneficial to our business,” he wrote in an email, describing his belief that the company’s telemedicine product will improve from Google’s apparent doubling down on Glass products for the workplace.

It’s been hard for these companies to explain to customers that the whole scene isn’t dead yet. “When that story came out, literally 200 people emailed me,” says Kyle Samani, founder and CEO of Pristine, which makes a product allowing doctors to share live video feeds through HIPAA-compliant channels. “It’s affected our business only in that people are like, ‘Kyle, is Pristine dead?’” It got so bad that the company soon put a large blue banner at the top of every page on its website to reassure both current and potential customers that everything will be fine.

Although not even enterprise-end companies know when the new version of Glass will be released, executives from Glass at Work companies say they’re still regularly making and receiving Glass orders from Google. Samani says his company buys the headsets from Glass’s enterprise arm “by the hundreds” on a regular basis. And if these companies’ – and Google’s – claims are to be believed, that trend should continue.

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Hype Around Healthcare Wearables Runs Into Reality

Hype Around Healthcare Wearables Runs Into Reality | Healthcare and Technology news |

Makers and boosters of wearable technology have had a few reality checks lately.

Late last month, while we Americans were enjoying the long Thanksgiving weekend and/or indulging in the Black Friday retail frenzy, Juniper Research over in the UK was putting out a report forecasting that fitness devices, not true health monitors would “dominate the wearables market” worldwide until at least 2018. Those likely will be of limited use in the wider picture beyond fitness.

“The key is making the devices provide meaning as well as data—counting steps is all very well, but will not keep consumers interested unless that information can be contextualized and made useful for them,” Juniper Research Analyst James Moar said in an interview with FierceMobileHealthcare.

On Tuesday, Dr. Joseph Kvedar, director of the Center for Connected Health at Boston-based Partners HealthCare, opened the annual mHealth Summit in Oxon Hill, Md., with a caution about “irrational exuberance,” according to several published reports.

As mHealth news reported, Kvedar said that nobody has figured out how to make consumers — patients — care about mobile health technologies. “And if we don’t [figure that out], m-health will be another tech bubble,” Kvedar was quoted as saying.

That is not far off from what Dr. Matt Patterson, president of AirStrip Technologies, a San Antonio-based maker of mobile patient monitoring software, said last Thursday at the 11th annual (and likely final, due to declining interest) Healthcare Unbound conference in San Diego. ”I can tell you right now doctors do not care about your Fitbit data,” Patterson said.

Consumers eventually stop caring, too. ”Surveys have found that half who use mobile fitness trackers to keep tabs on their workouts or diets stop using the programs within six months,” said a recent Los Angeles Times story on smartphones in healthcare. (It would have been nice for the Times to cite its sources, but the point is taken.)

Patterson suggested that consumers and providers alike still do not see much value in such technologies, a common reason for apathy toward some technologies in healthcare. ”I think innovation in healthcare results from clinical transformation where the economics of value and incentives are aligned,” he said.

Data has to “take a lot of work out of the situation” and be actionable for physicians to care about it, and it has to be aligned with the incentives, Patterson said. At the moment, Fitbit data does not do that, he suggested.

All these wearable and mobile products, touted as “disruptive,” “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking” by so many vendors and Silicon Valley cheerleaders still haven’t proved value to healthcare providers or large number of consumers. Eventually, they will have to, or Kvedar will be right about a bubble.

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Where In Healthcare Will Wearable Workflow Emerge First?

Where In Healthcare Will Wearable Workflow Emerge First? | Healthcare and Technology news |

OK, what Vince actuality asked me was, “What healthcare industry segments or niche markets do you see as particularly promising?” But I’m well known for turning every question about digital health into a question about healthcare workflow and workflow technology. Plus V did indicate he was particularly interested in my experience and view re Google Glass.

I should precede what I’m about to see with a short disclaimer. My answer is extremely influenced by the so-called “availability heuristic” (recency or salience of memory influencing frequency estimate). In spite rejection of Google Glass by the consumer market (see my second post in which I discuss stigma as a barrier to wearable adoption) Glass is still going gang-busters in healthcare, if anything, it’s picking up speed. I recently attended the [wearable conference in Indianapolis] and participated in building a prototype workflow tech-driven Glass app for hospital environmental services.

Plus, since we’re (or at least I’m) talking wearable workflow, not wearables per se, this imposes a lower constraint on the necessary sophistication and complexity of wearable tech and backend systems. And right now, the only almost-to-market wearable of sufficient functionality and real-life playing out prototypes and pilots if Glass.

There may be as many as a hundred Glass in healthcare pilots out there. At the recent wearable in tech conference in Indianapolis, 19 out of 20 presentations were about Glass. Whereas the previous week there’d been two major (not healthcare specific) wearable conferences in which Glass was a small minority of presentations.

Many of the early of Glass startups both inside and outside healthcare are pivoting to smartwatches, which are the most similar to Glass in ability to deliver notifications and accept gesture and voice commands. What’s happening is a generalization of the small form factor, notification, acknowledgement, querying functionality across wearable devices. Of course smartwatches can provide the kind of realtime handsfree video streaming and sharing capability of glass, but the two classes of device not only share a fundamental wearable use case (notifications) but Android Wear and Glass share many parts of the Android platform.

So if Glass and smartwatches are in the lead for delivering sophisticated wearable workflow, where in healthcare will they deliver sophisticated wearable workflow first? Where Google Glass will thrive is a good received wisdom view on this.

“At health systems like San Diego’s Palomar Health and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s and Beth Israel Deaconess and at innovative companies like Pristine, Augmedix, Accenture and Philips, Google Glass is being teased, tossed and turned around to create a platform that allows the healthcare provider to access needed information at the point of care, communicate with colleagues, even create a real-time medical record.”

More generally, the Glass excels at the following three general use cases:

  • Real-time, hands-free, cognitive support
  • Ambient awareness
  • Capture experience
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30-Under-30er's Google Glass For Doctors Startup Raises $16 Million

30-Under-30er's Google Glass For Doctors Startup Raises $16 Million | Healthcare and Technology news |

Google Glass startup Augmedix announced today that it has closed a $16 million Series A funding round, bringing its total funding up to $23 million.

Augmedix – whose cofounder, Pelu Tran, was featured on this year’s 30 Under 30 list for healthcare — is a service for doctors that automates the tedious record-keeping process using Google's GOOGL +1.75% smart headgear. The idea is simple: doctors wearing Glass can use Augmedix to verbally enter data into or call up a patient’s electronic health record, drastically shortening the time it takes to do the paperwork that takes up a third of a physician’s day.

The service is already used at 35 sites in 10 different states, and the  nearly three-year-old company is angling for more. Tran hopes that the funding round, led by seed investors Emergence Capital and DCM Ventures, will help the company grow tenfold in the coming year. “We’re hoping to be able to grow even further thanks to our incredible customer demand,” he says.

But even with the new investments and substantial customer base, there’s reason for concern. Since its release to select members of the public in 2013, Glass has garnered plenty of criticism from all corners, from consumers who want more capabilities from the product to business owners concerned about violations of privacy.

Still, Tran isn’t all that concerned. “We focus on providing a service delivered via Google Glass and I think that right now Google Glass is doing quite well in enterprise,” he says. “If you look at Glass as a consumer and you look at what tablets are like and what smartphones are like, if you look at the early days, you see that they started in enterprise. For the next couple of years, that will be Glass.”

Augmedix is one of ten companies Google lists as certified Glass at Work partners, a group of companies focused on Glass-based enterprise services. More than half of them list healthcare as a major focus. Augmedix may not have a monopoly on doctors, but Tran is happy to be in on the ground floor of a technology he’s sure will soon be everywhere.

“If Glass was truly not doing well,” he points out after last weekend’s CES trade show, “I don’t think you’d see 30 competitors scattered throughout Las Vegas.”

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For healthcare, Google Glass still has it | Healthcare IT News

For healthcare, Google Glass still has it | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news |

There's plenty of potential for Google Glass in healthcare, despite reports that have called into question the technology's value.   "Glass in the enterprise is certainly stronger than it's ever been. Google is investing very heavily," said Kyle Samani, CEO of Pristine, a company that develops software for the device, during a Monday afternoon session at the mHealth Summitoutside Washington, D.C.   Samani was part of a panel that included Paul Porter, MD, director of special projects and telemedicine for Brown University Emergency Medicine, and Sean Lunde, mHealth lead for Wipro's healthcare and life sciences consulting group. They noted several use cases where Google Glass is being tested:  

  • Helping specialists in ambulances to enable consultations while a patient is being transported to a hospital.
  • Performing consultations in the ER to bring in specialists faster and expedite waiting times.
  • Steaming video from the OR to the command center of a medical device company rather than have a device rep present with the surgeon.
  • Using Glass to quickly communicate information rather than sending a page.
  • Using Glass for telemedicine consults to alleviate the often-lengthy wait times for patients to see a dermatologist in person.

In a cited dermatology study at Brown's emergency department, about 90 percent of patients said they were satisfied with and would recommend the technology, according to Porter. 

Almost all study patients had confidence in the equipment and would recommend it to other patients, he reported.

The caveat, however, was that nearly 75 percent of patients would have preferred a face-to-face visit rather than a telemedicine consult.

"If we're going to move to a cheaper and more accessible form of medicine, it's going to have the feeling of using a call center," Porter acknowledged.

Lunde encouraged those interested in starting a Glass pilot to do so as a way to get in tune with future technology trends.

"Screens will get smaller and more contextual and you will learn how to make that work," he said, noting that Glass' screen size requires that only the most important, relevant information be displayed.

"For us, Glass was both better and worse than the hype," Porter said. "The truth is somewhere in the middle. For certain specialties … where your hands need to be free and your eyes need to be covered, it shows great promise. It's part of what I consider part of a really bright future for telemedicine in general."

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