Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT), along with a small group of other hospital Trusts have worked with NHS Digital as a national pilot centre for trialling the ground-breaking Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist.
A mixed reality headset, HoloLens 2 uses multiple sensors, advanced optics, and holographic processing. The digital overlays created within the headset can be used to display information which blends with the real world to create a mixed or augmented view.
The first pilot project is taking place at Torbay Hospital’s Breast Care Unit, where the digital technology will support nurse-led dressing clinics. Clinical specialist nurses will be able to send a high-resolution video feed to consultants, in real time, to get immediate feedback and advice on a patient’s needs. Additionally, consultants are able to add digital markers and annotations live on to the video, to guide the nurse’s view where useful. This replaces the current system of emailing static images to consultants.
Miss Jacqueline Rees-Lee, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast and Plastic Surgeon at TSDFT, said: “Extended Reality (XR) Technologies are undoubtedly going to play a big part in patient care, and staff and healthcare education in the future. The Hololens 2 mixed reality headset will help us develop digital technology to bring benefits to our patients and staff in the hospital and out in the community.
“We are a busy service and cannot always be in the breast care unit, this technology allows me to assist other clinicians and support our support our nursing staff from anywhere. I am able to talk and interact with patients and so am able to gather crucial information throughout the appointment process. It can also help with business continuity, for example, if a clinician is self-isolating due to COVID 19. The system works over Microsoft Teams and is so easy to use and secure. In terms of security, we always get patient consent but everything is encrypted and no information is stored.”
TSDFT has been using digital technology and virtual reality-driven solutions to help improve patient care and complement staff training for some time. Patients who are seriously ill, undergoing treatment or are end of life, have been offered immersive experiences for therapeutic support and it has also helped train staff in real life scenarios.
Nick Peres, Head of Digital Technologies at TSDFT and Advisor for Immersive Technologies at Health Education England says: Our Digital Futures Lab at TSDFT is an innovation space, supported by Health Education England, that enables us to explore, share and understand the potential that digital technologies can bring to healthcare settings. Staff can directly experience and learn about a range of technologies, including augmented and virtual reality, and creatively explore how they can be used to support healthcare delivery, enhance patient and staff experience and deliver education and training.
“It is wonderful to have the HoloLens 2 pilot project as part of the Digital Futures work as we always want to be sure there is real value being added with any new technology. The HoloLens works alongside the current platform we use for virtual collaboration and videoconferencing, but it is paramount that those using new devices and equipment feel comfortable and confident in doing so.”
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