Video: HoloLens AR helps older doctors go bedside with Covid-19 patients, without risking illness

Senior physicians can virtually make the rounds with the interns, but without the prep time and contraction risk

Raphael Kahan 10:4625.06.20

Physicians at Israel’s Rabin Medical Center in the central city of Petah Tikva have begun using Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality (AR) goggles to aid treatment of coronavirus (Covid-19) patients. The hospital began implementing the technology due to the need that emerged in recent months to distance senior doctors, who tend to be older, from the patients, while allowing them to support their younger colleagues remotely.


HoloLens goggles function as a computer that accompanies their wearer, recording and streaming whatever they look at. They allow users to reflect the natural field of vision over which data, information, and even video calls are projected. The layer of information can also include high-definition holograms that can be fixed in location and respond like physical objects.


In the case of Rabin Medical Center's coronavirus ward, they are used to give expert doctors access to the patient, without having to put them at unnecessary risk of contraction by being in the same room. The older doctor can attend the rounds virtually in real time from anywhere they chose, observe the examination, while pointing out problem areas, instruct the goggle-wearers on which tests or procedures are required and monitor the equipment. The technology also saves time by making post-round briefings and consultations unnecessary. Since the goggles are placed on the younger doctor’s head, their hands remain free to engage with the patient and the room.


Doctor Dagan Schwartz, a senior physician at the hospital’s emergency room, said the impetus for the pilot program was the coronavirus pandemic that risked the hospital running into a shortage of medical personnel, and particularly of veteran doctors. “Using this method makes it possible for senior physicians to accompany the interns in their rounds, without having to go through the preventative procedures, making better use of their time. The senior doctors only step in during the meeting with the patient, saving them the preparation and protection time,” he said.


“The system enables receiving help from remote team members, even if they are at home. This technology has applications beyond its use in coronavirus wards,” Schwarts added.


The AR solution was developed by the government’s national command and control center using hardware and software provided by Microsoft.