CareCloud Blog

xbox_kinect2

Microsoft’s new Kinect technology is all the rage among video gamers these days, but the technology behind the device is a smash hit amongst hackers and scientists most of all. With its multiple color and depth-sensing lenses, skeletal tracking system, and voice microphone array, these tinkering innovators see the Kinect technology as an incredible tool whose true purpose has yet to be discovered. Their experiments with the device got us thinking: Could the Kinect technology eventually make its way into healthcare IT?

A Watching Machine

Microsft’s Kinect is a gesture based controller, meaning you don’t actually hold anything in your hand. The device uses an array of cameras and sensors to read and interpret your body movements. This differs from, say, an iPad, which requires you to make contact with the device. Kinect is meant to stay invisible and unnoticed while functioning. It sits there and watches, listens, feels for your input gestures.



 

The unsung promise of gesture based controllers is their ability to process and interpret things happening in the physical world, a domain once reserved for living organisms like ourselves. These devices ‘see’ into our world, watch for specific types of movement, and process the corresponding data using specialized software. So, what does this mean for healthcare?

Kinect the Docs

Imagine the physicians practice of the future, with sensors based on the Kinect technology in every room connected to a futuristic version of a medical practice management system. Through the sensors, the system will know and process every action taken within the practice, silently performing many of the most tedious medical practice management duties.

Think about it:

  • Patients will be checked in when the system detects their presence
  • Patients’ health records will physically follow the patient throughout the practice
  • The physician’s actions will guide the system’s workflow, not vice versa
  • The system will recognize and log every procedure (What data entry?)
  • The resulting data could be approved by the physician at end-of-visit
  • All encounters would be recorded and could be replayed for audits

Now just to be clear, we’re not making any promises here. These are lofty, distant dreams, but the reality is that we’re laying the groundwork for these systems right now. Check out some of the best Kinect hacks for more mind-blowing footage of the future that’s already here. And by all means, if you come up with some more cool ideas for the medical practice of the future, leave us a comment!

  • TheAdmiral

    Sounds like a key component of the Star Trek EHR!

  • Bob

    I work every day in Physician practice IT. This strikes me as pretty far-fetched…
    * Patients will be checked in when the system detects their presence– We’re going to facially recognize any of our millions of potential patients? And Assume they’re ready to “check in?”
    * Patients’ health records will physically follow the patient throughout the practice– physically follow? They’re on computer. Follow how?
    * The physician’s actions will guide the system’s workflow, not vice versa — That already happens. And the part that doesn’t happen, you can’t tell what’s happening by looking. You have to ask the provider….
    * The system will recognize and log every procedure (What data entry?) — Again, you can’t tell the relevant data by looking. How does a “fully normal” physical exam look different from “palpation reveals mass in abdomen”
    * The resulting data could be approved by the physician at end-of-visit –Already happens
    * All encounters would be recorded and could be replayed for audits –Good idea. Tell your patients we’re videotaping their exams. And promise not to misuse/lose the information. They’ll LOVE the idea.

    • http://www.carecloud.com Alopez

      Thanks for the great comment, Bob. The ideas in this post are the product of some quick brainstorming about a distant future. Like most science fiction, it won’t hold up to close scrutiny. But the idea is to get the conversation started, to get people thinking past the promise of incentives and beyond the muzzle of meaningful use. We should always be looking to the horizon for inspiration, and besides, who knows what the future has in store? Did you ever think, 10 short years ago, that you’d be carrying a fully functional computer in your pocket? I know I would have never believed I’d see some of the things we already take for granted. There’s no reason to believe devices like these will be able to accomplish all this and more, and relatively soon. If the past is any indication, we can’t afford to be shortsighted when it comes to technology and its applications, or we’ll be left in the dust.

      • http://www.carecloud.com Alopez

        Correction: “There’s no reason to believe devices like these *won’t* be able to accomplish all this and more, and relatively soon. “

  • http://careCloud.com/ Mike Cuesta

    This is great!