Remote community uses mixed reality for telemedicine

 In CraneMorley, Mixed Reality Industry Insight

Deep in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia lies the far town of Dargo. Population of 100. Like many small and remote towns all over the world, Dargo can feel like it is on an island and isolated from the rest of the world. This means normal everyday things for us (like visiting a doctor whenever your sick) turns to a luxury when you live four and a half hours from the closest hospital.

A trip to the doctor’s office for city folks is mere minutes away. For residents in remote towns, the trip is hours instead of minutes. Often times the trip to see a doctor can end up an overnight stay like the folks at Dargo. This costs families valuable time and money to schedule a trip. People who live in these remote towns are not people who sit behind a computer for work, they own family farms and cannot take a vacation day whenever they want. They must find someone in their small town to take care of their livestock or crop while the are gone.

The first step for Dargo Bush Nursing Centre (DBNC) was to fix the slow internet speed they receive in a remote location. To do this they installed a satellite dish which boosted their bandwidth from as little as 3 megabits per second to 290 megabits per second.

Once the internet issue was resolved, DBNC was ready to use mixed reality to overcome their geographical barriers. An eight-week pilot of the telemedicine technology using Velrada’s Mixed Reality as a Service (MRaaS) kicked off. Nurses were armed with Microsoft’s Mixed Reality HoloLens headset and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist application, and virtually connected with doctors and share their field of view.  One nurse described this improvement to telemedicine as “the HoloLens device is a game changer [for] our telehealth.”

One of the big successes highlighted during this new coverage was the of the Theodorou family. After their daughter had her tonsils removed, a follow up appointment was required to ensure everything was fine. Instead of driving four and a half hours each way they had a virtual follow up saving them “at least $800 to $1,000 once we factor in fuel, accommodation” and not to mention valuable time away from their farm.

The pilot success has fast track plans for other remote centers to adopt this telemedicine model. Expansion should not take long, once a satellite dish is installed and nurses are trained up on the HoloLens technology, they should be ready to launch.

Finally, the best thing about this project is that people who live in remote locations do not have to worry about moving closer to hospital to receive the same treatment and care as they would in urban communities.

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