A council run training hub in the UK county of Devon has trialed the use of augmented reality (AR) in practice, in a bid to cut demand and stress on the UK National Health Service (NHS).

Staff at the Plymouth-based Devon Training Hub have been equipped with Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headsets with the aim of cutting down time on administrative practices, allowing staff to get in contact with one another instantly.

AR works by projecting a digital user interface onto a clear pane of plastic allowing the user to see and manipulate screens and applications in their sightline, whilst still being able to see. It differs from virtual reality (VR) as it is intended to enhance or augment actual reality.

The headsets, supplied by Insight Enterprises, have been seen as a success by the local council with the company and council partnering further to provide end-user training sessions for the equipment to further expand the use of the technology across the region.

John Bryant, lead of social care at the Devon Training Hub, said: “Often people are looking for a silver bullet for ‘substitutional’ technology, replacing humans with tech when there’s a resourcing shortfall. What we’re doing is looking at technology and asking how it can enable people to perform better, enjoy their work more and provide even better outcomes for patients, clients and staff.

“Working with Insight and listening to the reactions of those using the tech, we have answered those questions and the benefits of using mixed reality headset technology have surpassed our expectations.”

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By GlobalData

VR and simulated experiences used as training tools in healthcare, whilst not new, are making significant progress within the healthcare industry as more and more applications for the technology begin to open up.

Research published by GlobalData has found that the AR market was worth an estimated $7bn in 2020 with that figure expected to leap to $152bn by the end of 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 36%. However, the same report found that the current direct lack of use cases in healthcare was impacting the tech’s likelihood of adoption.

Phil Moore, digital innovation lead at Insight, said: “Leveraging our understanding of Microsoft HoloLens technology, the locality is leading the way in revolutionising care provision in the UK.

“Individuals receiving care will get equipment faster and caregivers can feel more confident in the quality of the information they are giving clients.”

Earlier this year at MEDICA 2023 the use of AR and VR took a central focus as part of a talk led by Marc-Angelo Bisotti of ApoQlar, with a focus on how AR technology could change how some clinicians are trained.