While numerous examples exist of hospitals deploying the HoloLens to assist doctors, surgeons, medical professionals, and students while treating patients, California's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford is actually using the augmented reality headset to improve the patient's experience.
The hospital's Childhood Anxiety Reduction through Innovation and Technology (CHARIOT) program uses augmented and virtual reality experiences to help put children at ease as they undergo a variety of potentially painful or stressful procedures, such blood draws to surgical preparation.
In one example, an AR experience developed by Miney Moe and the CHARIOT team, patients see a pair of animated 3D characters in their room as a distraction from the pain of getting an IV inserted into their arm. It's also a learning experience, as the virtual friends take the time to explain what's going on. Medical assistants can control or follow along with the experience via an iPad.
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The program is in place at the Treatment Center at Packard Children's, including the newly-opened Bonnie Uytensgu and Family Surgery and Intervention Center.
"Any time you have a child in the hospital, it can be stressful on the whole family," said Dennis Lund, MD, interim CEO, chief medical officer, and pediatric general surgeon at Packard Children's, in a statement.
"In our new center, we are not only improving the quality and safety of treatments but also focusing on easing the experience for patients and families as much as possible."
And while the innovative approach is welcome, a $3,000 AR headset doesn't seem as practical as much cheaper VR headsets, such as the Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR, or Google Daydream, which also completely remove patients from the stressful environment.
However, in the case of patients like 11-year-old A.J. (seen using the HoloLens in the video above), who want to be able to see the procedure as it happens, AR appears to be the right prescription for calming patients while keeping them in the moment.