29.05.24

The Holobox: Connecting Patients to Doctors at Crescent Regional Hospital

Crescent Regional Hospital in Texas uses a Holobox to connect patients in remote or underserved areas with doctors. The Holobox is a holographic technology from the health tech company, Holoconnects, in the Netherlands.

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Crescent Regional Hospital in Texas uses a Holobox to connect patients in remote or underserved areas with doctors. The Holobox is a holographic technology from the health tech company, Holoconnects, in the Netherlands.

Understanding Holographic Technology

Holographic technology is a photographic method that captures and projects light scattered from an object to create a 3D image. This allows a hologram to produce a realistic sense of movement without the need for special equipment like glasses or cameras. As viewers move around the hologram, the object appears to shift and move naturally.

Holoconnects’ Innovation in Healthcare

A Dutch company, Holoconnects, has developed the Holobox for use in healthcare, particularly in regions with doctor shortages and where hospitals or urgent care facilities are not available.

Steve Sterling, Managing Director of North America for Holoconnects, highlights the demand among healthcare providers for improved doctor-patient engagement amid increasing pressures on doctors’ accessibility and time. “There is a range of use cases for how their Holobox can impact healthcare, such as getting patients and their local health practitioners access to top specialists in other cities or locations that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.”

Enhancing Access to Medical Care

Hologram technology’s role in providing medical services to remote areas

In the United States, residents of rural communities face higher rates of chronic diseases and suicide, poorer maternal health outcomes, and more limited access to healthcare compared to their urban counterparts. According to a new report from the American Hospital Association, the reasons behind the 136 rural hospital closures between 2010 and 2021 include staffing shortages, low reimbursement rates, and regulatory barriers.

“Our Holobox 3D hologram displays offer a lifelike, engaging experience for patients, fostering a sense of connection with medical professionals even when they cannot be physically present,” said Sterling. “The Holobox also optimizes doctors’ time by enabling them to conduct high-quality, virtual consultations with patients in distant hospitals or clinics without needing to leave their own office.”

“By allowing doctors to present very realistic 3D images of procedures, patients are better informed about their treatment plans, processes, and expected outcomes. This approach significantly enhances patient understanding and acceptance compared to using a rubber replica of a knee to illustrate an ACL or knee replacement surgery,” added Sterling.

Advancing Telemedicine

Crescent regional hospital implements holographic technology for remote consultations

Raji Kumar, the CEO of Crescent Regional Hospital in Lancaster, Texas, oversees a facility equipped with seven ICU beds, 86 medical surgical/telemetry beds, ten emergency department beds, four advanced operating suites, two sleep lab suites, and two procedure rooms dedicated to pain management and endoscopy.

Kumar explains that Crescent leverages the Holobox for remote consultations, breaking down geographical barriers. “Holoconnects’ Holobox elevates telemedicine by enhancing physician-patient engagement, enabling better patient recovery monitoring, even when physical presence isn’t possible,” she said.

“Our specialists can conduct virtual visits with hospitalized patients nearing discharge, and communicate remotely with hospital patients, eliminating the need for in-person visits,” Kumar elaborated. “As CEO, I can also speak with patients before discharge to discuss their hospital experience.”

She added, “Holobox fosters multidisciplinary teamwork among healthcare providers, facilitating real-time sharing of medical data and discussions to optimize treatment planning for patients with complex medical needs.”

Crescent Regional Hospital aims to interconnect all their Holoboxes for seamless communication. “While we have started with one Holobox, our ongoing efforts involve expanding our network by adding more devices,” said Kumar. “This step aims to enhance our capability to facilitate remote interactions and consultations among healthcare professionals and patients.”

Through the Holobox initiative, the hospital aims to optimize care delivery by fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing across their healthcare ecosystem. “Holoconnects’ Holobox technology has been operational at our facility for approximately two months, and patients are highly enthusiastic about interacting with a virtual representation of their doctor, as it provides them with the sensation of the doctor being physically present,” said Kumar. “This innovative feature allows patients to openly share their recovery progress in real-time, showcasing and explaining every detail directly to their doctor despite the doctor’s physical absence.”

Kumar notes that patients who view the doctor in 3D while the doctor sees them in 2D experience a unique sense of connection and presence that enhances the telemedicine experience.

Inside the Holobox

Creating Lifelike 3D Holograms with Touchscreen Displays and Custom Light Sources

André Smith, CEO and Co-founder of Holoconnects, explains that their video signal utilizes transparent touchscreen display technology paired with custom-designed light sources. This combination produces a realistic 3D holographic image of people and graphics.

The Holobox’s proprietary software facilitates live communication, content scheduling, remote sensor activation, and various interactive features, including an AI-driven healthcare avatar.

Transforming Experiences Across Industries

From hospitality and healthcare to retail and education, this technology bridges connections among people.

Holoconnects currently serves approximately 200 clients globally.

“Our Holobox 3D hologram displays are utilized in various sectors, including healthcare, hospitality, universities, retail, conventions, and corporate events,” stated Smith. “Renowned organizations such as UNICEF, the United Nations, Nike, Vodafone, BMW, Deloitte, Best Western, and T-Mobile have incorporated our Holobox technology into their operations.”

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Visitors experiment with the Holobox by Dutch company Holoconnects, a specialist of the hologram technology, during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 11, 2024. (Photo by Julie JAMMOT / AFP) (Photo by JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Smith asserts that overall, the results have surpassed expectations. User feedback highlights increased customer engagement, enhanced brand perception, and improved operational efficiencies. “The impact of our Holobox technology is often compared to the revolutionary changes brought about by smartphones, with its potential only limited by the creativity of its applications,” he said.

“In advertising, BMW used the Holobox to promote the BMW i5 in a life-sized holographic image that allowed viewers to explore the car from any angle as if they were,” said Smith.

Sustainability

Reducing travel-related carbon emissions

The commercial aviation industry accounts for two to three percent of annual emissions. In 2021, the sector emitted 547 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Aviation has contributed around 4% to global warming to date.

“By enabling CEOs and speakers to present at global conferences and meetings without leaving their offices, Holobox significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with business travel,” said Smith. “Virtual presence capability supports environmental goals and fosters global collaboration without the need for extensive travel.

The International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC ILO) wanted to minimize carbon emissions associated with executive travel. Using the Holobox, they brought the Secretary General’s holographic presence from Geneva to Turin for key events. “This approach not only drastically reduced the organization’s carbon footprint but also set a precedent for embracing cutting-edge solutions to address environmental concerns,” said Smith.

Engagement and interaction

Changing the patient journey

Kumar says that Crescent plans to extend the Holobox camera setup to primary care physicians who are not part of their staff but could be granted courtesy privileges.

“This would allow these physicians to virtually greet their patients admitted to our hospital, even if they are not serving as the consulting physician,” said Kumar. “Despite having multiple patients at our facility, these primary care physicians would have the opportunity to observe their patients’ recovery progress and offer greetings through the Holobox, thereby enhancing transitional care management.”

“By facilitating this interaction, primary care physicians would stay informed about their patients’ recovery journeys, ensuring seamless continuity of care upon discharge,” she adds.

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