Smart glasses are being used at a British hospital in a bid to reduce waiting lists for heart procedures. The hospital is the first in the UK to use the device when patients are having surgery to replace faulty heart valves.
Staff at Basildon Hospital can wear a high-resolution camera and earpiece to connect with experts remotely. The glasses then share live video and audio with these experts, who can interact with the feed, like zoom in on pieces of medical equipment, and give advice through the headset to the wearer ahead of, and during, surgery to the performing physician.
This is believed to help two issues plaguing the British healthcare system: staffing shortages and appointment backlogs. When waiting lists were at their highest in 2021 between July and September, the average wait time for TAVI procedure at the Hospital was just over seven months, decreasing to two-and-a-half months, based data from October to December 2022.
Previously during such procedures, staff were advised by a clinical expert from medical device company Boston Scientific present in the operating theatre. But now, thanks to the smart glasses, they can be remotely guided by the expert from anywhere in the world, with experts capable of supervising multiple procedures simultaneously in different locations. The smart glasses also mean staff can be trained remotely too.
Basildon is the UK’s first hospital to use the smart glasses for transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) heart procedures which replace diseased heart valves. Although the hospital has carried out more than 500 TAVI procedures to date, this is the first time it has been carried out with remote expertise.
The use of smart tech has seen increasing utility in the healthcare industry, with the use of Cloud-based wearable devices, where physicians can track things like a patient’s heart rate in real-time to alert of immediate issues or even compile the data for longer analysis that can help with diagnosis. However, this use at Basildon represents a switch from smart devices being used by patients to inform physicians to physicians to actively treat patients.
smart glasses are increasingly being touted for use in hospitals as a tool with the potential for wide-ranging improvements to the efficiency of medical staff. Alongside these guided procedures and training, the smart glasses can aid in remote consultations, hands-free communication for those in and out of an operating theatre; navigation for larger hospitals and updates of room changes, and in the future, could see use in bringing up access to an patient’s medical information through AI facial recognition.
Biomedical engineering firm Boston Scientific provides the support for the smart technology and its remote technology lead, Chandan Johal, has expressed his hopes it would be used for other procedures in the future.