Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to use HoloLens in its operating theatres

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to use HoloLens in its operating theatres

Microsoft's mixed reality technology promises to help doctors improve surgical procedures

Richard Humphreys |

The UK’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is planning to use Microsoft HoloLens in its operating theatres. The mixed reality technology promises to help doctors work together and improve surgical procedures.

Surgeons want to use HoloLens, which allows people to easily create 3D holograms and interact with them in the real world, so they can see up-to-date information on a patient while they are operating on them.

Alder Hey, which cares for more than 270,000 young people and their families a year, will also introduce large-screen Surface Hubs in meeting rooms.

Surface Hub will allow medical professionals to collaborate and use one digital screen to share patient charts, tests and medical images that are traditionally written on paper and located in several places around the hospital.

“Imaging a patient’s heart from the inside and from the outside is absolutely essential,” said Rafael Guerrero, a cardiac surgeon at Alder Hey. “I have to visualise that 3D view in my head in order to do this operation. You can display those images on a screen in the operating theatre sometimes, but it’s not easily accessible; and I can’t leave in the middle of an operation to go get more information about my patient. In many cases, the heart has already stopped in order for us to operate.

“Microsoft HoloLens and mixed reality will, in the future, enable me to have a patient’s scans in front of me while I’m doing the operation. If I can use technology to obtain that information, to see those images in front of me, that helps me tremendously and improves the outcome for my patient.”

The hospital is working with Microsoft partner Black Marble to develop an app and introduce the technology.

 “HoloLens has powerful visualisation capabilities. Coupled with the Surface Hub, which is excellent for transforming collaborative experiences, we saw a range of opportunities for creating engaging user experiences,” said Robert Hogg, chief executive of Black Marble. “The common factor for both these devices is that they are delivered on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which enabled us to write the application once, and still take advantage of the best features of both devices.”

Black Marble’s app uses InkCanvas and InkToolbar so multiple people can write notes on the Surface Hub at once. These are then time-stamped and show the name of the author, and can be uploaded to HoloLens during a later operation

For now, Black Marble has stored and secured sample data in Azure Blob Storage. However, it hopes to integrate the app into Alder Hey’s existing data systems so information can be securely viewed and updated.

“It’s incredibly important that we embrace technology to get our best people out there and do extraordinary things,” said Iain Hennessey, clinical director of innovation at Alder Hey. “At the end of the day, the health of children is more important than anything else.”

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