The National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine is getting holographic technology from Microsoft to aid its medical and nursing students in learning medical procedures and studying anatomical structures.

Beginning this April, Project Polaris is a collaborative effort by NUS Medicine, National University Health System, and Microsoft to hone students’ skills through mixed reality training powered by the Microsoft HoloLens 2.  

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Under this project, three-dimensional holograms will be projected from the HoloLens 2 that gives a visual presentation of actual clinical scenarios in practice. A joint team from NUS Medicine and Microsoft Industry Solutions has developed several instructional software that helps in practising clinical procedures, such as inserting a cannula and catheters.

According to Microsoft’s media release, Polaris comes with three levels of difficulty to train and provide adequate direction to students at varying levels of competence. 

Polaris is part of a bigger project called Horizon, which also consists of Project Delphinus and Project Mira – these projects aim to train students in clinical soft skills and clinical anatomy, respectively.

WHY IT MATTERS

During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual reality and mixed reality have been a “must-have tool” in medical education, in both onsite and remote environments, noted Alfred Kow, associate professor and the assistant dean for Education and co-project lead of Polaris. “We are truly excited to see how far this collaboration with Microsoft can go in terms of offering our students innovative and effective visual aids and teaching mechanisms,” he added.

NUS Medicine is always on the look for new and innovative teaching methods “to help medical and nursing students better understand the medical curriculum and gain a new appreciation for healthcare and health while striving to maintain a balance with time-tested traditional approaches,” according to Lau Tang Ching, associate professor and vice dean for Education. 

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Polaris builds on NUHS’s ongoing research and development programme around the use of mixed reality tech in clinical care. The hospital group recently said that through its research it wanted to support the creation of new clinical applications that will enhance clinical processes, improve patient safety, and refine medical education. It has outlined a holomedicine roadmap that includes several projects, integrations, procedures to onboard users, and boosting the hospital’s infrastructure to support holographic tech. 

Meanwhile, its team of neurosurgeons has also studied the use of holographic tech to locate brain tumours during surgery. They used a holographic visor to project a 3D hologram of a patient’s brain scan into space and superimposed it onto a patient’s head during a procedure. 

ON THE RECORD

“As one of the few hospitals in Southeast Asia that has a tertiary education arm which collaborates with a training hospital, NUS Medicine is in a unique position to use mixed reality solutions and the Microsoft HoloLens 2 to aid in the transformation of healthcare education, for years to come,” said Richard Koh, national technology officer at Microsoft Singapore.

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