Technical Support by Smart Glasses During a Mass Casualty Incident: A Randomized Controlled Simulation Trial on Technically Assisted Triage and Telemedical App Use in Disaster Medicine

J Med Internet Res. 2019 Jan 3;21(1):e11939. doi: 10.2196/11939.


Background: To treat many patients despite lacking personnel resources, triage is important in disaster medicine. Various triage algorithms help but often are used incorrectly or not at all. One potential problem-solving approach is to support triage with Smart Glasses.

Objective: In this study, augmented reality was used to display a triage algorithm and telemedicine assistance was enabled to compare the duration and quality of triage with a conventional one.

Methods: A specific Android app was designed for use with Smart Glasses, which added information in terms of augmented reality with two different methods-through the display of a triage algorithm in data glasses and a telemedical connection to a senior emergency physician realized by the integrated camera. A scenario was created (ie, randomized simulation study) in which 31 paramedics carried out a triage of 12 patients in 3 groups as follows: without technical support (control group), with a triage algorithm display, and with telemedical contact.

Results: A total of 362 assessments were performed. The accuracy in the control group was only 58%, but the assessments were quicker (on average 16.6 seconds). In contrast, an accuracy of 92% (P=.04) was achieved when using technical support by displaying the triage algorithm. This triaging took an average of 37.0 seconds. The triage group wearing data glasses and being telemedically connected achieved 90% accuracy (P=.01) in 35.0 seconds.

Conclusions: Triage with data glasses required markedly more time. While only a tally was recorded in the control group, Smart Glasses led to digital capture of the triage results, which have many tactical advantages. We expect a high potential in the application of Smart Glasses in disaster scenarios when using telemedicine and augmented reality features to improve the quality of triage.

Keywords: Smart Glasses; augmented reality; disaster medicine; emergency medical service physician; mass casualty incident; telemedicine; triage.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disaster Medicine / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Eyeglasses / standards*
  • Humans
  • Mass Casualty Incidents / mortality
  • Mass Casualty Incidents / psychology*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Triage / methods*