13 Apr Regional Victoria expands access to virtual care with Microsoft HoloLens rollout
The state government of Victoria has announced the rollout of Microsoft HoloLens across the East Gippsland region to expand access to virtual care.
Backed by an A$80,000 (over $50,000) investment, the region-wide rollout comes following a successful trial at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service – believed to be the world’s first application of the technology in a virtual medical setting.
Now, 11 HoloLens have been deployed across the region with 25 clinicians trained in using it for telehealth. Its rollout for home visits will follow soon. In a home visit, nurses wear the VR headset and are guided virtually by a doctor in a remote location.
WHY IT MATTERS
According to a media release, the HoloLens provides patients with a “level of care much closer to an in-person examination than a regular telehealth appointment.” The device features a range of inbuilt overlays such as mapping technology, which can be used to trace the extent of a wound, assess healing from infection or injury, and draw virtual diagrams. It also gives patients the opportunity to recover from illness or surgery in the comfort of their own homes.
“Patients recover much better at home, but that’s only possible if we’re providing them with high-quality healthcare services right at their doorstep. That’s why we’re making investments in technology like the HoloLens – so more rural and regional Victorians can get the specialist care they need either in their community,” said Victorian Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
The HoloLens rollout is part of the Victorian government’s A$698 million ($450 million) expanded Better at Home initiative. Last year, the initiative helped free up 374,000 hospital bed days and provided more Victorians with access to home care.
Under this initiative, more than 45 health services are now delivering in-home and virtual care programmes, covering a wide range of specialities and treatments. Noteworthy examples are Northern Health’s Maternity in the Home and Medical Obstetrics at Home, which saw 50% reduction in hospital readmissions by providing home care for almost 1,500 women last year, and Austin Health, which already delivered cancer therapies at home to more than 1,800 patients.