Patients use holograms to try medical treatments

A new technology based on mixed reality allows medical students to practice diagnosis and treatment with holographic patients: they don’t exist, but they see it as real.

Medical student interns at a UK hospital have become the first in the world to train with holographic patients.

Using mixed reality headsets, students can treat virtual patients with technology that simulates medical situations, such as having asthma, and must make real-time decisions about their treatment.

The first module presents a patient with asthma in a 3D image format, followed by anaphylaxis, pulmonary embolism, and pneumonia. More units are being developed in Cardiology and Neurology to teach students.

The new training method improves on traditional resources for learning medicine, such as textbooks, models and computer software, according to its creators.

The technology is called HoloScenarios It is available for licensing in medical institutions around the world. Its creators claim that it provides a flexible and cost-effective training resource that can rejuvenate traditional medical training.

Mixed reality

The technology is based on the so-called mixed reality, which blends the interaction of virtual reality with the visual power of augmented reality, allowing to visualize the real world with additional graphic information.

This combination allows the user to fully enter a real environment, with the particularity of being able to interact with virtual elements.

“Mixed reality is increasingly being recognized as a useful method for simulation training,” said Arun Gupta, project manager, in a statement.

“As organizations learn more about this topic, the demand for platforms that provide utility and ease in managing mixed reality learning is expanding rapidly,” he adds.

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As in real life

While working with this technology, medical students share the same room and wear mixed reality headsets.

They move as if they were in real life at the same time that they interfere with the diagnosis of the hypothetical patient, which they see as if they were in the same room.

In treating a holographic patient, students are not alone. Through a headset, medical educators can complicate a patient’s symptoms to adjust learning.

These teachers can work remotely, and they don’t have to share the same hospital space with students. Even students and doctors from other parts of the world can participate in the online session.

The possibilities don’t end there: Students can even participate in this hands-on medicine class from their electronic device, whether it’s a smartphone or tablet.

Anywhere

This means that realistic and safe learning can be accessed, delivered and shared worldwide, making this technology prevalent in many medical schools around the world.

The new technology could also provide more flexible and cost-effective training without the need for the heavy resources of traditional simulation, which can make comprehensive training financially expensive, its creators say.

This includes the costs of maintaining simulation centers and their equipment, faculty and staff working hours to operate the laboratories, and to recruit and train patients.

Evaluation of results

In conjunction with the development and launch of HoloScenarios, the University of Cambridge is conducting research evaluating student and patient outcomes using mixed reality, as well as evaluating the resulting products and efficiencies for organizations.

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“Having a 3D image patient who can see, hear and interact is really exciting and will make a difference in student learning,” says Junior Dr. Aniket Bharadwaj, who is one of the first to test the new technology.

He concludes, “Having a 3D patient that you can see, hear and interact with is really exciting and will make a difference in student learning.”

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