University of Vermont

Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Grossmann Performs First Surgery with GoogleGlass

Rafael Grossmann
Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Vermont and surgeon at UVM satellite clinical training site Eastern Maine Medical Center, Rafael Grossmann, M.D.

On June 20, 2013, Rafael J. Grossmann, M.D., F.A.C.S., a clinical assistant professor of surgery at the University of Vermont and surgeon at UVM satellite clinical training site Eastern Maine Medical Center, performed the first-ever surgery incorporating GoogleGlass. Grossmann used the new wearable, hands-free mini-computer equipped with Google software to stream live video of the procedure (while keeping the patient’s identity confidential) to a Google “hangout” – a video chat room where a group could view the experience in real time.

Grossmann is a Google “Explorer” – a designation assigned to each of the reported 8,000 people who were able to purchase the first GoogleGlass devices to essentially “test out” the technology in a variety of environments. GoogleGlass can capture video and photos, as well as retrieve and display data on a small screen viewable to the eye in response to simple verbal commands.

An innovative clinician and educator, Grossmann is excited by the prospect of integrating this new device into his practice of medicine and in particular, in medical education.

“This device has the capability to break paradigms in the way we teach,” says Grossmann. “I think it could develop into another tool students can use.”

Self-described as “passionate about healthcare social media use,” Grossmann presented at a 2011 TEDxDirigo talk regarding the use of an iPod in teletrauma. A recent post on his blog, titled “OK Glass: Teach Me Medicine,” describes how Grossmann and a team from LifeFlight of Maine used a simulator mannequin connected to a remote laptop in a scenario designed to explore the possibilities of GoogleGlass in medical education.

One of the three scenarios that Grossmann conducted involved a group of health science students receiving step-by-step instruction from the surgeon, who participated via the hands-free technology. Another scenario allowed a remote specialist to provide advice from a remote location via wearing GoogleGlass in a hang out.

“The experience was very intuitive,” says Grossmann in his blog. "The potential to improve the interface between the human user and the device, connecting to the internet and enabling synchronous audio-video communication is what strikes me most about GoogleGlass.  Remote mentoring of students and providers with less experience, could be radically improved upon with this technology.”

Read a Forbes article about Grossmann’s first GoogleGlass surgery. Follow Dr. Grossmann on Twitter.