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Medical Education Goes Holographic with Mixed Reality from Microsoft
January 12, 2022 News


Starting April 2022, medical and nursing students at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine will be using three-dimensional (3D) holographic technology from Microsoft to help them learn certain medical procedures and study anatomical structures.

The collaboration, which spans NUS Medicine, the National University Health System and Microsoft adds Mixed Reality (MR) to the learning experience, named Project Polaris. Through holographic technology, medical and nursing undergraduates can expect to better hone their skills through training enabled by the Microsoft HoloLens 2.

This progressive use of MR in healthcare education stems from Microsoft’s work with the National University Health System, which is embarking on Holomedicine research in Singapore with the aim to enhance patient care.

In Project Polaris, the HoloLens 2 will be used to project 3D holograms to give medical and nursing students a visual appreciation of actual clinical scenarios in practice. The suite of instructional software developed by the team from NUS Medicine and Microsoft Industry Solutions provides 3D, MR technology that will be used to help students practice clinical procedural skills such as inserting a cannula, as well as inserting catheters in male and female urinary tracts.

Project Polaris comes with three levels of difficulty, with a goal to train and provide sufficient direction to allow students at varying levels of competence to achieve the highest standards of clinical practice in a safe space said the School’s Assistant Dean for Education and co-project lead, Associate Professor Alfred Kow.

“We are truly excited to see how far this collaboration with Microsoft can go in terms of offering our students innovative and effective visual aids and teaching mechanisms. With the ongoing pandemic, virtual reality and mixed reality has been identified as a must-have tool for teaching and learning at onsite and remote environments”.

Polaris is part of a larger programme called Project Horizon, which consists of more initiatives like Project Delphinus and Project Mira. These aim to train students in clinical soft skills and clinical anatomy, respectively, positioning NUS Medicine as the first in Southeast Asia to introduce holographic MR as a teaching tool to train medical and nursing students.

The medical and technical expertise of NUS Medicine and Microsoft will pave the way for the development of a niche technological competency, in which clinical training tools can be developed to introduce realistic clinical scenarios for use in medical education.

“We are continually pursuing new and innovative teaching methods to help medical and nursing students better understand the medical curriculum and gain a new appreciation for healthcare and health, while striving to maintain a balance with time-tested traditional approaches,” said Associate Professor Lau Tang Ching, the School’s Vice-Dean for Education. “This incorporation of holographic mixed-reality learning fits in well with our teaching initiatives and we hope to see this collaboration with Microsoft flourish in the coming years”.

Added Richard Koh, National Technology Officer at Microsoft Singapore: “From delivering better healthcare experiences at the frontlines to helping neurosurgeons keep patients better informed of what could happen during their surgeries, technology has been an empowering tool for healthcare workers as they protect and save the lives of patients.

As one of the few hospitals in Southeast Asia that has a tertiary education arm, which collaborates with a training hospital, NUS Medicine is in a unique position to use mixed reality solutions and the Microsoft HoloLens 2 to aid in the transformation of healthcare education, for years to come”.

Professor Chong Yap Seng, Dean of NUS Medicine, said he looked forward to the impact that technology would bring to medical education.

“I’m glad to see that our educators have found like-minded industry partners to work with in educating the next generation of medical professionals”, said Prof. Chong. “With such interdisciplinary partnerships, we are even more confident that our graduates will be future-ready clinicians”.