Holographic house calls: High tech care for the elderly

None

Gone are the days of having to make the long trip to the hospital to consult with a doctor.

The doctor may see you now from the comfort of your own home and we are not talking about a home visit - we are talking about holographic doctors.

The Silver Chain group RDNS is looking towards the future by allowing doctors to appear in a person's home via hologram.

The health care organisation will be undergoing trials for their new program Silver Chain Enhanced Medical Mixed Reality (EMMR), which allows a health care professional to project themselves through a HoloLens headset developed by Microsoft.

Silver Chain Group CEO Dr Christopher McGowan said the EMMR would enhance the delivery of their services while supporting clients to remain at home rather than transferring to a hospital.

"They can have their consultations in the home... they won't have to travel for appointments and clinical specialists can remain in central locations while still providing personalised care and saving the health care system time and money," Dr McGowan said.

"Our research indicates around 30 per cent of people don't need to be in hospital and could be receiving the same safe, quality treatment at home where they feel more comfortable with the added benefit of freeing hospital beds for critically unwell patients."

The technology will also provide nurses with real time access to the client's medical data through a holographic dashboard.

Health care professionals will be allowed to 'see through the eyes' of the visiting nurse, and be provided instant access to any tests being carried out such as blood pressure and heart monitoring.

Southern Cross Care carer and registered nurse Katie Edmonds said the real time hologram would be beneficial for nurses.

"There is extra support and guidance from the health practitioner in the provision of care, as opposed to just the nurse solely in a client's home," she said,

"As a team they are better equipped to make informed health decisions and outcomes alongside the client...I think it's great for those in remote areas or for those unable to get a health practitioner due to poor health."

Council on the Ageing (COTA) WA chief executive Jennette Ward said the technology may be intimidating for older people, but with support they may overcome fears and benefit from the service.

"For many older people using new technology can be really daunting and overwhelming especially when you are not feeling well... people will need help and support and it may also not work for everyone," she said.

"My understanding is that Silver Chain will have a nurse in the home undertaking the health assessment information and consulting with a doctor...they will then support the older person when they access the holographic doctor."

Dr McGowan has introduced his own elderly mother-in-law to the technology and it is reported that she is a fan.

"Many people assume older people are intimidated by technology but we know from our experience and research that clients are open to innovation that will allow them to live longer and better in their own homes," he said.

"In fact, the people who have tested the HoloLens headsets have been excited by the technology and amazed by the fact that a doctor could appear as if sitting with them in the comfort of their home."

Silver Chain said EMMR raises the prospect not of 'will' technology change the nature of our healthcare, but more 'when' and 'how' it will revolutionise delivery of care in Australia.

This story Holographic house calls: High tech care for the elderly first appeared on WA Today.