NHS staff are given some of the best training in the world thanks to technology

NHS doctors and nurses in England are being given cutting-edge training in treating COVID-19 patients from some of the UK’s top immersive technology companies.

A consortium called Resilient XR has provided the health service with interactive videos that allow healthcare staff to rotate the content 360 degrees and view it from any angle. This is particularly useful when learning the right way to put on PPE equipment.

The group is a collaboration between industry, academia and government, made up of Microsoft, volumetric production studio Dimension, digital technology innovation centre Digital Catapult, content distribution platform VISR VR, mixed-reality development agencies Fracture Reality and Make Real, the University of Leeds’ Centre for Immersive Technologies, and University College London.

Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and Health Education England (HEE) are advising and contributing to Resilient XR to ensure the content is accurate, informative and up to date.

Dr Andy Lewington, Consultant Renal Physician/Honorary Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Medical Director (Medical Education), Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: “Online resources for medical training have long been required, but the production has rapidly accelerated in light of the impact of COVID-19 on the UK and an urgent requirement for remote education using mixed reality technologies.

“Similar upskilling is required across all domains of healthcare. In an environment with continuous change for both clinical treatment and safeguarding, these training resources need to be maintained ongoing for accuracy and currency. As a group we’ve proved we’re able to combine our broad skills and the resources available to great effect and I’m confident in Resilient XR’s ability to fill the wider clinical skills gap with immersive training.”

Around 20 videos have so far been published on https://nhs.dimensionstudio.co/, and they have seen 1.6 million session launches since it went live in March 2020.

The content is mostly in 2D and focused on clerking and ward management of a suspected COVID-19 patient, how to administer ventilation and maintaining emotional well-being as a frontline doctor.

Dimension, a Microsoft Mixed Reality Partner that has created interactive digital experiences involving Madonna, Michael Bublé and tennis star Andy Murray, used its studio in London to develop PPE training in 3D. Wearing PPE is critical for NHS staff to protect themselves from COVID-19 but many were unfamiliar with the right way to put it on, and there was a risk that the complex process could lead to dangerous errors.

Future training sessions will include the use of Microsoft HoloLens devices so holograms can be included.

A hologram of a patient sits on a hospital bed

HoloPatient: COVID-19 creates a hologram of a COVID-19 patient

The consortium worked with GIGXR to create HoloPatient: COVID-19, which creates a hologram of a COVID-19 patient and guides the HoloLens user through four stages of the illness. The hologram was produced, captured and processed by Dimension, under “safe shoot” conditions at its 106-camera London capture studio. HoloPatient: COVID-19 is available globally in the Microsoft HoloLens store.

Joe Varrasso, Microsoft’s HoloLens Partner Sales Executive for Europe, said: “I’m proud of the rapid response of Resilient XR consortium to the pandemic – their generosity of time and energy in responding to the NHS call. Mixed Reality is now being used to ready our NHS workers and together with Dynamics Remote Assist and HoloLens 2 is providing patient care and training to NHS and medical students whilst protecting doctors and staff. I’m pleased that the mixed reality ecosystem is contributing technologies that can make a difference.”

ResilientXR’s videos have also been used to train new medical staff, such as airline workers and other volunteers who have been drafted in to support the frontline response to the pandemic.