After neonatal ICU nurse Stephanie Shine gave birth three months too early in 2012, her newborn was taken away by hospital staff. Shine was one of hundreds of mothers that year at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she is a nurse, to get separated from her baby for immediate care after giving birth. Now, Shine is beginning a study at Brigham to connect mothers and their babies with Google Glass.
The study, called Love at First Sight, will allow mothers to see their babies in the ICU via a video conference on Google Glass with an ICU nurse. Love at First Sight is comparing traditional recovery with video conferencing on both iPads and Google Glasses.
Results from Love at First Sight could make all the difference. The Department of Pediatric New Medicine says fifty percent of mothers that give birth prematurely develop an anxiety disorder, and twenty-five percent develop clinical depression.
Brigham already has an iPad program in place that has produced positive results. Patient Suzette Martin saw her baby for the first time while FaceTiming a nurse in the ICU on an iPad. Her baby was born at thirty-one weeks and taken away immediately, but the iPad program helped ease her worries. “I was amazed that I was able to see him by FaceTime and see how he was doing,” said Martin.
While iPads have been helpful, Google Glass is a hands-free alternative, allowing for those wearing the smart glasses to continue a video conference while holding other objects and the babies themselves.
If statistics from the study show that video conferencing for mothers giving birth preterm is not just nice to have but necessary, Google Glass could end up in even more hospitals. The technology’s presence in health is constantly growing, according to Kyle Samani at software startup Pristine. Pristine has supplied Google Glass to twenty-five hospitals for a variety of uses, including Brigham.