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Google Glass Challenge: A Q&A with winner Piyush Gupta, MD

Piyush Gupta, MD
Piyush Gupta, MD

Piyush Gupta, MD recently won the “Best Pitch” award at the Medtech Google Glass Challenge. Gupta is an incoming third year resident resident in the department of internal medicine at Rhode Island Hospital, the principal teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He earned his bachelor’s degree biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and his medical degree at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

What compelled you to enter the Medtech Boston Google Glass Challenge?

I believe there is a big disconnect between medicine and technology. Sadly, I believe most healthcare technology isn’t always created for its users (patients/healthcare providers/family/hospital staff). But the Medtech contest provided an excellent opportunity to help adapt a new technology with the primary user in mind.

Tell us about your award-winning entry. How will this benefit patients and provide more effective, safer care?

I believe that Google Glass was created to bring society back to being social – truly social, with other human beings, in person. We all spend countless hours staring at and communicating with our electronics instead of physically interacting with other people.

Even though we are living in the 21st century, most of the healthcare technology we use is from decades earlier. We live in a healthcare environment in which fax machines and pagers are still considered normal for communication methods.

With that in mind, I created “Glass on Call,” a more efficient, hands-free tool to facilitate communications between patients, providers and electronic medical records. With Glass on Call, providers would be able to receive automatic live patient updates to their Glass device, allowing providers to complete their task without having to break away to return pages or obtain patient updates. Such a device would allow clinicians to act on medical events much more quickly, leading to overall safer, more effective patient care, while also being able to treat their patients in person rather than via a computer.

How do you see telemedicine impacting healthcare over the next 10, 20, 50 years, and how do you see yourself playing a role in its development?

Whether we like it or not, mHealth, or mobile health, is inevitable. All industries are now adapting to mobile technology, and society is already demanding that healthcare also becomes more mobile. Within the next few years, the outpatient experience is going to change dramatically. Telemedicine will become more accepted to a point where patients will be able to have “doctors visits” online 80 percent to 90 percent of the time. While the current technology is in its infancy, I expect that in the years to come, patients will have many more tools for self-diagnosis and self-monitoring.

I see this as a huge opportunity for providers to shape healthcare. If engineers and clinicians are able to work together, we can create new technologies which prioritize safer, more efficient patient care rather than creating sexy looking devices that don’t truly impact medical practice.