Patient Perceptions of Wearable Face-Mounted Computing Technology and the Effect on the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Appl Clin Inform. 2016 Oct 12;7(4):946-953. doi: 10.4338/ACI-2016-06-LE-0094.


Background: Wearable face-mounted computers such as Google Glass™ , Microsoft HoloLens™, and Oculus' Rift®, are increasingly being tested in hospital care. These devices challenge social etiquette, raise privacy issues, and may disrupt the intimacy of the doctor patient relationship. We aimed to determine patients' perception of and their privacy concerns with an archetype of wearable face-mounted computer devices, Google Glass.

Methods: Hospitalized inpatients were asked about their familiarity with Glass, how comfortable they would be and if they would be concerned about privacy if their physician wore Glass, if the use of Glass would affect their trust in their physician, and if they would want their physician to wear Glass if it improved their care.

Results: Most (73%) respondents were unfamiliar with Glass, though 64% would be comfortable if their doctor wore Glass. Under half (46%) of respondents were concerned about privacy with the use of Glass. Seventy-six percent (76%) of respondents stated their doctor wearing Glass would not affect their trust in their doctor. Patients concerned about their privacy were less likely to trust their doctor if their doctor wore Glass (17% vs. 0%, p<0.01). Sixty-five percent (65%) of respondents would want their doctor to wear Glass if it improved their care.

Conclusion: Most patients appear open to and would want their doctor to use face-mounted wearable computers such as Glass, even when unfamiliar with this technology. While some patients expressed concerns about privacy, patients were much less concerned about wearable technologies affecting the trust they have in their physician.

Keywords: Google Glass™; Technology; doctor-patient relationship; face-mounted technology; mobile health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Confidentiality
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcomputers*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Trust