Healthcare/MedicineMixed Reality

How Medics Are Using Mixed Reality to Treat COVID-19 Patients

© Imperial College London

Medical workers are using mixed reality to enhance care for COVID-19 patients.


Mixed reality is thriving amid a global health crisis. The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought most of the world to a standstill. However, it isn’t stopping immersive technologies from evolving. Now, more than ever, we’re seeing new applications in the medical field. In the UK, for instance, MR is supporting doctors in their care for COVID-19 patients. Moreover, it is keeping our frontliners safe.

So, how is MR empowering medical workers?

Let’s get right into it.

Microsoft HoloLens on the Frontlines

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has led a project, introducing Microsoft HoloLens to medical professionals in high-risk London hospitals. It is an untethered mixed reality headset that improves collaboration in the frontlines. Equipped with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, HoloLens enables doctors to work with technicians in real time. Moreover, they can collaborate at a safe distance.

HoloLens sends a live video feed of the doctor treating COVID-19 patients to clinicians in another room. It allows other medical workers to inspect patients without being on location. According to Imperial College London, it reduces staff exposure to high-risk areas by 83%. In addition, it minimizes their usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) because only the doctor inspecting patients on location has to wear it. Hospitals can save roughly 700 items of PPE per ward every week.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality headset covid-19
© Imperial College London

Protecting medical professionals is crucial to our fight against the coronavirus. If doctors, nurses, and other staff become ill, they are unable to provide much-needed care to patients.

The Rise of Mixed Reality

MR is one kind of immersive technology. However, unlike virtual reality, it doesn’t put its users in a fully computer-generated environment. It also doesn’t overlay 3D content on top of real-world objects as augmented reality does. Instead, it intertwines real and virtual elements.

Doctors wearing HoloLens can see 3D digital models within their physical environment. They can interact with them through hand gestures, gaze, and voice commands. For example, doctors can pull up patient records such as x-rays and scans using hand gestures. By wearing HoloLens headsets, doctors can conduct hands-free calls with colleagues stationed in low-risk areas in the hospital. They can even contact medical professionals from anywhere in the world, allowing them to receive crucial medical advice in real time.

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The medical field has been discussing the use of MR for years. But we’re seeing a surge of growth amid this global health crisis.

HoloLens is empowering medical professionals beyond the high-risk areas of London hospitals. For instance, doctors use it in trauma, intensive care, and surgery. Teachers in Imperial College London’s schools are also using it to educate their students. Students can watch live feeds from doctors wearing HoloLens. They can continue to learn about anatomy or cardiology despite not being in a classroom setting.

The Future of Mixed Reality

The evolution of mixed reality is exciting for us all. If there’s one thing we learned about it during this pandemic, it’s that it has huge potentials beyond the world of gaming.

Although MR is still in the early stages of development, it is reshaping industries—from healthcare to education. It enhances collaboration and provides seamless access to data, allowing professionals to work effectively. Best of all, MR empowers industries to do work more safely and successfully without removing the human workforce.

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Despite the world being at a standstill, MR is thriving. It is enhancing the quality of human life in such trying times. It’s only a matter of time until we see MR adopted on a mass scale. Hopefully, new hardware and software will roll out soon to empower workers as we resume life after this pandemic.


Gergana Mileva
the authorGergana Mileva
Based in Prague, CZ, Geri is a freelance journalist and writer, focusing on technology, finance, and marketing. If you have a story suggestion for Geri, you may contact her here.