World first: medical students treat a “hologram” patient in mixed reality

Cambridge, UK – Medical students at Addenbrooke, Cambridge University Hospital, are the first in the world to experience a new way of learning through ‘hologram’ patients in mixed reality. This technology, called HoloScenarios, was developed in collaboration with Los Angeles-based company GigXR. A world first that was positively received by students and doctors at the University of Cambridge.

“Put on your headphones and enter the…virtual consultation room”

For the first time, medical students from Addenbrooke, Cambridge University Hospital, trained in medical practice on a “hologram” patient in mixed reality. Mixed reality is the merging of a real and a virtual environment in which physical and digital objects and people exist and interact in real time. To enter the consulting room, doctors and students put on a Microsoft HoloLens virtual reality headset. They see each other and come into contact with a patient who is suffering from a respiratory disease here. Students must interact with the patient, make a diagnosis, and make treatment choices.

The medical professors present in the consulting room can change the scenario and the patient’s reactions and introduce complications. Given this scenario, students practice making vital decisions in real time. Teachers are also able to record students’ observations and discussions, which then enables them to discuss the resulting scenario. This first module developed by GigXR focuses on general respiratory diseases and emergencies. The “hologram” patient suffers from asthma, then anaphylaxis, pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. Further modules in cardiology and neurology are in development.

Realistic learning, in complete safety and at a lower cost

“During our medical school, counseling simulations were set up with actors playing the roles of patients. With the pandemic, these real interactions were replaced by virtual interactions on tablets due to the risk of contagion from the virus. Having a “hologram” patient to see, hear and interact with is really exciting. This makes the training much more interactive and realistic. It is also possible to safely make mistakes and learn from them. ” To explain Aniket Bharadwaj, one of the first medical students to test this new technology. In addition, the students can view, comment on and rate the scenarios that play out with the patients on a smartphone or tablet.

Compared to conventional simulation methods with trained actors, this technique has the advantage that it requires neither significant resources nor special personnel and material availability, which makes the implementation of such training considerably easier.

Towards an immersive and shared learning model

What is also interesting about this technology is that it can – theoretically – be available anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet-connected virtual reality headset to enter the same meeting room, no matter what continent you are on. The aim is to be able to offer medical courses and distance learning courses in the future. The technology developed by GigXR is now available under license to all educational institutions worldwide.

As stated by dr Arun GuptaAnesthesiologist at Cambridge University Hospital, Project and Higher Education Director at Cambridge University Health Partnership: “Through true-to-life immersive virtual reality learning, we are helping to move education towards a model where students around the world have equal access to high-level expertise to learn clinical skills”.

The article was originally published on Mediquality.

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