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Life-Like Hologram Patients Train Doctors for Real-Time Decision Making in Emergencies

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 30 Jun 2022
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Image: ‘Hologram patients’ developed to help train doctors and nurses (Photo courtesy of University of Cambridge)
Image: ‘Hologram patients’ developed to help train doctors and nurses (Photo courtesy of University of Cambridge)

A medical training project using 'mixed reality' technology aims to make consistent, high-level and relevant clinical training more accessible across the world.

University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK) in partnership with GigXR (Los Angeles, CA, USA) is developing HoloScenarios, a new training application based on life-like holographic patient scenarios. Learners in the same room, wearing Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality headsets, are able to see each other in real life, while also interacting with a multi-layered, medically accurate holographic patient. This creates a unique environment to learn and practice vital, real-time decision making and treatment choices.

Through the same type of headset, medical instructors are also able to change patient responses, introduce complications and record observations and discussions - whether in person in a teaching group or remotely to multiple locations worldwide, via the internet. Learners can also watch, contribute to and assess the holographic patient scenarios from Android, iOS smartphone or tablet. This means true-to-life, safe-to-fail immersive learning can be accessed, delivered and shared across the world, with the technology now available for license to learning institutions everywhere. The first module features a hologram patient with asthma, followed by anaphylaxis, pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. Further modules in cardiology and neurology are in development.

Delivered by the Gig Immersive Learning Platform, HoloScenarios aims to centralize and streamline access and management of mixed reality learning, and encapsulate the medical experience of world-leading doctors. The new technology could also provide more flexible, cost-effective training without heavy resource demands of traditional simulation, which can make immersive training financially prohibitive. This includes costs for maintaining simulation centers, their equipment and the faculty and staff hours to operate the labs and hire and train patient actors.

“Mixed reality is increasingly recognized as a useful method of simulator training,” said Dr Arun Gupta, consultant anesthetist at CUH and director of postgraduate education at Cambridge University Health Partnership, who is leading the project. “As institutions scale procurement, the demand for platforms that offer utility and ease of mixed reality learning management is rapidly expanding.”

“Our research is aimed at uncovering how such simulations can best support learning and accelerate the adoption of effective mixed reality training while informing ongoing development,” said Professor Riikka Hofmann at Cambridge’s Faculty of Education who is leading an analysis of the new technology as a teaching and learning resource. “We hope that it will help guide institutions in implementing mixed reality into their curricula, in the same way institutions evaluate conventional resources, such as textbooks, manikins, models or computer software, and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes.”

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