Background: Over the past 2 decades, various desktop and mobile telemedicine systems have been developed to support communication and care coordination among distributed medical teams. However, in the hands-busy care environment, such technologies could become cumbersome because they require medical professionals to manually operate them. Smart glasses have been gaining momentum because of their advantages in enabling hands-free operation and see-what-I-see video-based consultation. Previous research has tested this novel technology in different health care settings.
Objective: The aim of this study was to review how smart glasses were designed, used, and evaluated as a telemedicine tool to support distributed care coordination and communication, as well as highlight the potential benefits and limitations regarding medical professionals' use of smart glasses in practice.
Methods: We conducted a literature search in 6 databases that cover research within both health care and computer science domains. We used the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) methodology to review articles. A total of 5865 articles were retrieved and screened by 3 researchers, with 21 (0.36%) articles included for in-depth analysis.
Results: All of the reviewed articles (21/21, 100%) used off-the-shelf smart glass device and videoconferencing software, which had a high level of technology readiness for real-world use and deployment in care settings. The common system features used and evaluated in these studies included video and audio streaming, annotation, augmented reality, and hands-free interactions. These studies focused on evaluating the technical feasibility, effectiveness, and user experience of smart glasses. Although the smart glass technology has demonstrated numerous benefits and high levels of user acceptance, the reviewed studies noted a variety of barriers to successful adoption of this novel technology in actual care settings, including technical limitations, human factors and ergonomics, privacy and security issues, and organizational challenges.
Conclusions: User-centered system design, improved hardware performance, and software reliability are needed to realize the potential of smart glasses. More research is needed to examine and evaluate medical professionals' needs, preferences, and perceptions, as well as elucidate how smart glasses affect the clinical workflow in complex care environments. Our findings inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of smart glasses that will improve organizational and patient outcomes.
Keywords: care coordination; distributed teamwork; mobile phone; smart glass; telemedicine.
©Zhan Zhang, Enze Bai, Karen Joy, Partth Naressh Ghelaa, Kathleen Adelgais, Mustafa Ozkaynak. Originally published in JMIR Medical Informatics (https://medinform.jmir.org), 28.02.2023.