By SWNS staff reporter
Future doctors at a UK hospital have become the first in the world to train with holographic patients.
Wearing mixed-reality headsets, students can treat virtual patients using technology that mimics medical situations.
The pioneering technology was developed at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
Medicine students are presented with a virtual patient with symptoms - such as being asthmatic - and must make real-time decisions about their care.
NHS director Stephen Powis said the new technology would help train the next generation of doctors by allowing them to practise medicine in real-time.
The first training module features a hologram patient with asthma, followed by scenarios of anaphylaxis, a blocked blood vessel and pneumonia.
Further modules in cardiology and neurology are in development.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said: “The NHS has always been at the forefront of medical innovation.
"[This] unique development by teams in Cambridge – to use life-like holographic patients in medical training – could enhance the learning experience of our next generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, by creating new environments to practice medicine in real-time, while improving access to training worldwide.”
The new training method rivals conventional resources for learning, such as textbooks, manikins and computer software.
Named HoloScenarios, the mixed-reality technology is now available for license to medical institutions across the world, with developers saying it offers a cost-effective and flexible training resource.
Mixed reality allows users to interact with and manipulate both physical and virtual items and environments.
It is similar to the well-known and fully-immersive virtual reality (VR), which places the user entirely inside a digital world.
Dr. Arun Gupta, a consultant anesthetist at Cambridge University Hospitals, said: “Mixed reality is increasingly recognized as a useful method of simulator training.
"As institutions scale procurement, the demand for platforms that offer utility and ease of mixed reality learning management is rapidly expanding."
Riikka Hofmann, professor at the University of Cambridge's education department, said the technology will help to improve patient wellbeing.
Hofmann said: “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.”
“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.”
Addenbrooke's Hospital developed the new mixed-reality technology in partnership with the University of Cambridge and Los Angeles-based tech company GigXR.
David King Lassman, founder of the tech firm GigXR, said: “Empowering instructors with 360-degree preparation for clinical practice represents a milestone for GigXR that allows us to provide our customers with a library of applications that offers solutions for students from their first courses to continuing education.
“Our first HoloScenarios module represents a new and incredibly powerful way to use mixed reality for healthcare training, to be followed up by many more modules and new applications delivered soon.”
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