ADDENBROOKE, UK — Medical students at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, part of Cambridge University Hospitals, have become the first in the world to experience a new way of learning using mixed reality holographic patients. They use technology called HoloScenarios that was developed in collaboration with Los Angeles, California-based company GigXR. Cambridge University students and doctors welcomed the experience.
Virtual Research Room
Mixed reality merges real and virtual environments and creates a new environment where physical and digital people and objects exist and interact in real time. To enter the exam room, doctors and students wear a Microsoft HoloLens virtual reality headset. They see each other and meet a patient with respiratory disease. Students must communicate with the patient, make a diagnosis and choose a treatment. Medical professors in the examination room can change the scenario, change the patient’s reactions and introduce complications. Faced with this scenario, students practice essential, real-time decision making. Teachers can also record student observations and discussions, allowing them to talk about the scenario unfolding. Developed by GigXR, this first module covers common respiratory illnesses and emergencies. The hologram patient has asthma, followed by anaphylaxis, a pulmonary embolism, and pneumonia. Other modules in cardiology and neurology are under development.
Interactive, realistic learning
“During medical school, we would have situations where actors would come in and act as patients,” explains Aniket Bharadwaj, one of the first medical students to test this new technology. “With the pandemic, a lot of that turned into tablet-based interactions because of the risk to people from the virus. Having a hologram patient that you can see, hear and interact with is really exciting. It makes training much more interactive and realistic. You can also It’s completely safe to make mistakes and then learn from them.” In addition, students can watch from a smartphone or tablet, take notes and evaluate the scenarios that occur with patients. Traditional simulation methods with trained actors require significant available human and material resources, making training with simulated situations costly and complicated to implement. Mixed reality is a more accessible solution, especially as the demand from academic institutions for this type of solution is growing rapidly.
Shared learning model
The interest in this technology also lies in the fact that it can be made available anywhere in the world. All you need is a virtual reality headset connected to the internet to enter the same exam room no matter what continent you are on. The goal is to be able to provide medical courses and training remotely in the future. The technology developed by GigXR is now available under license to all academic institutions everywhere. As Arun Gupta, MD, PhD, Anesthesiologist at Cambridge University Hospitals, Director of Postgraduate Education at Cambridge University Health Partnership, Cambridge, UK, and Project Leader, stated: “Thanks to lifelike immersive learning in virtual reality, we’re able to help make education develop [from a mentorship-based model] to one where students around the world have equal access to top mastering expertise [intervention-based] clinical skills.”
In addition to the development and release of HoloScenarios, Cambridge University is conducting research to evaluate the results students achieve as a result of mixed reality training. The aim of their research is to measure the effectiveness of this learning in real patient situations. Riikka Hofmann, PhD, associate professor in the Faculty of Education at Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK, leads an analysis of the new HoloScenarios technology as a teaching and learning tool. “Our research aims to discover how such simulations can best support student learning,” she said. “We are studying this solution in the same way as textbooks, models or computer software, to see how it would improve outcomes in contact with patients.”
Potential new prospects
In general, “mixed reality is increasingly recognized as a useful method of [simulator] training,” said Gupta. For GigXR, the success of this technology represents an important step in the development of mixed-reality applications for medical training. Company founder David King Lassman plans to develop new modules and applications for a range of pathologies and for all course levels, including continuing education for healthcare professionals.According to Stephen Powis, PhD, MBA, National Health Service National Medical Director, “This unique development by teams in Cambridge can enhance the learning experience of our next generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers.”
This article has been translated from MediQuality.