Mixed-reality headsets reduce physician contact with COVID-19 patients by 80% at London hospitals

Multiple London-based hospitals are teaming up with Microsoft to provide select physicians with mixed-reality headsets to limit direct contact with COVID-19 patients, according to Business Insider.

The HoloLens headsets feature sensors and a camera around the headband, allowing physicians to share their point of view with clinicians remotely. Inside the visor of the headset is a small screen that projects holographic images for the user to see. Hospitals using Microsoft's technology include University College London Hospitals, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay and the Leeds Teaching Hospital.

"Instead of you seeing my face, you would see my first-person view, and you would pop up as a holographic image and I would see you projected into the clinical space," Dr. James Kinross, PhD, a consultant colorectal surgeon at Imperial College, told the publication. "So I could have a heads-up conversation with you whilst I'm performing a surgical task."

The headsets reduce the number of physicians physically conducting rounds by about six or seven individuals, so just one physician enters the ward while the rest of the physicians watch and interact with the rounding physician from a COVID-19-isolated room.

Dr. Kinross said that after running a four-week test, he and his colleagues discovered the HoloLens reduced the number of physicians coming into contact with COVID-19 by about 80 percent. PPE usage also dropped, with physicians saving about 700 articles of PPE clothing per week per ward, Dr. Kinross added.

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