HAVING a consultation with your doctor may soon be a lot easier thanks to the development of new holographic technology by a leading care agency.
Called the Enhanced Medical Mixed Reality (EMMR, pronounced EM-R), the technology creates a virtual consultation room allowing a nurse and patient real-time interaction with a specialist or other health care professionals who appear as a hologram in the home, visible through special goggles called Microsoft HoloLens.
The technology, developed by Silver Chain Group in consultation with Microsoft, will soon be available to the group's 650 clients and will reduce the need for frail patients to visit a hospital.
It will also allow some in-patients to go home while still having regular access to their specialist or hospital doctor.
The experience begins when a Silver Chain Group nurse visits a patient.
By using the HoloLens goggles the nurse sends the patient's clinical data, such as vital signs, in real time to a doctor sitting in a specialised room at the hospital. Once the patient puts on the goggles the doctor appears to them as though sitting in their own home and can talk about their condition and progress.
The technology also allows family members to access the consultation via their own computer from anywhere in the world; and to contribute to the discussion.
"EMMR will enhance the delivery of our services, further supporting our clients to remain at home, rather than be transferred to a hospital," said Silver Chain Group chief executive Christopher McGowan.
"They have their consultation in the home. They won't have to travel to 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 the company's research indicated about 30 per cent of people don't need to be in hospital and "could be receiving the same safe, quality treatment while at home where they feel more comfortable, with the added benefit of freeing hospital beds for critically unwell patients".
"EMMR raises the prospect not of 'will' technology change our healthcare system but more 'when' and 'how' it will revolutionise delivery of care in Australia," he said.
EMMR is in the final stages of software development and will be trialled in coming months at a variety of locations and settings before being rolled out to Silver Chain Group clients on a larger scale.