Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT) has been selected as one of a small number of hospital trusts to take part in a national trial which involves Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist.

The first pilot trial within the trust is taking place at Torbay Hospital’s Breast Care Unit to support the nurse-led dressing clinics.

HoloLens2 is a mixed reality headset which uses multiple sensors, advanced optics and holographic processing. Within the Breast Care Unit, clinical specialist nurses can send high resolution video feeds to consultations, who will be able to add digital markers and annotations live on to the video to guide the nurse’s view where it’s needed.

The system will replace the more time-consuming process of emailing static images to consultants and enable immediate feedback and advice to be given. The use of the technology will be supported by the platform Dynamics 365 Remote Assist.

Jacqueline Rees-Lee, consultant oncoplastic breast and plastic surgeon at TSDFT, said: “Extended Reality (XR) Technologies are undoubtedly going to play a big part in patient care, and staff and healthcare education in the future. The HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset will help us develop digital technology to bring benefits to our patients and staff in the hospital and out in the community.

“We are a busy service and cannot always be in the breast care unit, this technology allows me to assist other clinicians and support our support our nursing staff from anywhere. I am able to talk and interact with patients and so am able to gather crucial information throughout the appointment process.”

The system works over Microsoft Teams and is easy-to-use and secure. All information being transmitted is encrypted and none of it is stored.

The technology has already been deployed in other settings. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital turned to the mixed reality solution to help clinical staff collaborate when needed.

The pilot trial forms part of the Digital Futures Lab at TSDFT – an innovation space where staff can directly experience a range of technology and creatively explore how they can be used to enhance healthcare delivery.

Nick Peres, head of digital technologies at TSDFT, added: “It is wonderful to have the HoloLens 2 pilot project as part of the Digital Futures work as we always want to be sure there is real value being added with any new technology.

“The HoloLens works alongside the current platform we use for virtual collaboration and videoconferencing, but it is paramount that those using new devices and equipment feel comfortable and confident in doing so.”