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Google Glass can help diagnose skin conditions

Physicians at a US hospital have used smart eyewear Google Glass to help off-site dermatologists diagnose skin conditions through videos.

Washington: Physicians at a US hospital have used smart eyewear Google Glass to help off-site dermatologists diagnose skin conditions through videos.

Skin problems account for 3.3 per cent of emergency department visits, and most patients wait months to see a dermatologist, researchers said.

For the patients who qualified for the trial, the emergency department physicians at Rhode Island Hospital used Google Glass - a pair of eyeglasses with a computer, camera and microphone built into the frame - to contact a dermatologist through a video link using Glass and running a third-party video platform.

On-site emergency medicine physicians observed patients' skin conditions and the consulting dermatologists saw identical images on a tablet in real time.

Later, patients were surveyed about their experience with teledermatology.

"While the patients prefer in-person visits, they said they preferred the video consultation over a more widely practiced telephone consult," said Paul S Porter, the principal investigator and a physician in the emergency department of Rhode Island, Hasbro Children's and The Miriam hospitals.

"For patients, a fast and accurate diagnosis means a faster path to satisfactory treatment.

"A device like this democratises telemedicine because a hospital can start a programme for a few thousand dollars and gain access to an experience that was only previously available at a much higher price point," Porter said.

Because of the interactive nature of the device, the teledermatologists were able to appreciate both the gestalt of nonspecific skin eruptions and specific dermatoses, or skin diseases.

Additionally, the off-site doctors were able to interact with the on-site doctors by asking questions and requesting additional skin locations to examine.

Rhode Island Hospital is the first hospital in the US to test Google Glass in an emergency department setting. The study began in March, 2014 and concluded after six months.

The research results are published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.