Time strapped doctors are looking at new technology to help them spend more time looking at you rather than their computer screen.
Due to the strict 10-minute appointment slots faced by GPs, they say they must start typing notes when you are still talking, so they can see the next patient who is waiting on time.
Patients complain that when their GP does this, they feel like they are not being listened to. Doctors blame the inefficient computer systems favoured by the NHS for feeling like they are ignoring their patients.
In America, doctors have started wearing Google Glass. These glasses have a built-in camera that films the consultation. This is watched in “real time” by a medical clerk who works remotely, often in Bangladesh or India, who types up the notes. The doctor can then read and approve the notes later.
The platform they use to type up the notes was developed by Augmedix. The co-founder and CEO of Augmedix, Ian Shakil, told Wired magazine that Google has relaunched Glass after its failure in 2013, for a use that is the opposite of what they envisaged it would be used for.
He said: “When you hear the word Glass, you think dehumanisation, social disruption. We’re the opposite — being close to the patient; being able to put your hand on his or her shoulder to comfort them.”
In further interviews, Mr Shakil said that 98 per cent of patients agreed to the use of Google Glass. Doctors have reported that interaction with patients is up to 70 per cent from around 35 per cent.
Google Glass has been used in the NHS but not in consultations. In 2014, the medical school at the University of London Queen Mary’s hospital use the device as a teaching aide.
Surgeons used the glasses to stream an operation on a 78-year-old man who was having cancerous tissue removed from his bowel and liver. The teaching session was watched live by 13,000 people around the world.
Whilst Google Glass seems like a good idea to increase the amount of contact time between doctor and patient, the NHS does not have the best record when it comes to data protection.
The question for patients will be whether the extra contact is worth the risk of their medical records being handled by a third party in another country.