HSE Alumnus Develops ‘Smart Glasses’ for Doctors Treating COVID-19 Patients
In late March at the Kommunarka COVID-19 Hospital outside of Moscow, a pilot project was launched that allows healthcare professionals to coordinate their efforts remotely while working with coronavirus patients. The system, which is run using ‘smart glasses’, is now in operation at ten Moscow hospitals. Ilya Flaks, a graduate of HSE’s Master’s Programme in E-Business and project founder, spoke with the HSE News Service about how the smart glasses help doctors and what prospects lie ahead for using virtual reality (VR) in health care.
A High-Tech Solution for Healthcare Professionals
The LANIT Group has vast experience in healthcare. For many years, LANIT has participated in the development of EMIAS (a unified medical information analysis system), but they did not have any experience with creating a system like the one that is being used today to decrease the risk of medical professionals becoming infected with the coronavirus. Before the pandemic, we participated in developing several similar solutions for other areas (manufacturing), but this spring, we offered our technologies for use in clinics that treat COVID-19 patients.
Our system is based on ergonomic smart glasses that are equipped with a camera and a compact screen. They connect to other gadgets in a joint information environment. A medical professional can wear these glasses and perform a live broadcast of sound and video from an isolation ward to the ‘clean zone’. Doctors from the ‘clean zone’ can provide their recommendations and transmit the necessary documents, such as the patient’s medical record or photos. This helps decrease the number of direct contact between healthcare professionals and the patient. The system decreases the risk of infection for doctors, cuts the time spent by professionals on using personal protection equipment, and helps them attend to more patients.
The world will never be the same, and, of course, telemedicine is here stay. Doctors will use modern technology all the more
The doctors will also be able to use the system to hold telemedicine multidisciplinary team meetings, to perform professional education, and contact other doctors for consultations.
Putting the Glasses to Work in Moscow Clinics
We have started work at Moscow City Hospital No. 40 in Kommunarka (an infectious disease hospital designated to treat COVID-19 patients), and since then, have launched our system in ten Moscow clinics. Today, all these clinics use our system daily. We are in direct contact with emergency doctors working in ‘dirty zones’ and other professionals: we are collecting their feedback in order to launch an updated version in several months, which will be more tailored to the doctors’ requirements and the specifics of their work.
Of course, we would like to cover all Moscow hospitals that are dealing with COVID-19 patients. In addition, other regions have also expressed interest in our system.
A Unique Project
I have not heard of anyone who used similar solutions during the peak of a pandemic, which would allow doctors in the ‘red zone’, where they need special personal protection equipment, to communicate with their colleagues in the ‘clean zone’. At the time, we are putting all our efforts into helping the Russian healthcare system. But if medical professionals in other countries hear about what we are doing and start using similar solutions, we would only be happy, because this may help save lives.
The Future of VR Technology in Medicine
I believe that these technologies have a huge potential: in the future, they could dramatically change communication both among medical professionals, and between doctors and patients. I can say that a trend that had previously only been in the making is now swiftly developing in a huge field today. The use of this solution is also relevant in related fields: for example, Emercom could contact a specific doctor right from the field, show them a patient in severe condition, get a quick consultation, and, we believe, save a human life.
First-year undergraduate students of the HSE Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology took part in an online seminar at George Mason University (USA). The seminar was part of the Coronavirus Research Update summer course, taught by Professor Ancha Baranova.
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