Blog Technology

How Assisted Reality is Shaping the Future of Healthcare with Hippo Virtual Care

May 17, 2022

Telehealth is quickly taking hold in healthcare, with minimal signs of slowing down even after the pandemic. Additionally, as telehealth becomes more widespread, the costs continue to decrease, making it an affordable option for patients and providers. In the past few years, the increased uptake of telehealth has led to faster diagnoses, improved access to care, higher patient satisfaction, reduced readmission rates, and improved follow-up care.

A survey by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that 85% of physicians use telehealth and over half report that they believe it helps them to provide high-quality care. The survey also found that many physicians are motivated to increase their use of telehealth. Patients also report better access to care with telehealth and 62% have a higher satisfaction rate since their provider started offering this service. The growth of telehealth is expected to increase, with telemedicine predicted to become a $255.8 billion industry by 2026.

Adding a video component has further revolutionized telemedicine’s reach, but many still struggle to find the best way of incorporating this into their practice. 69% of providers indicated that they still use audio-only telehealth visits. Some of the reasons for this include security concerns, limited access to technology for patients, lack of internet access, and concerns about patients’ digital literacy.

While a minority of providers feel that telehealth is not appropriate for their specialty, the majority of providers using telehealth have found that it benefits themselves and their patients. Over 50% of physicians surveyed by the AMA indicated that telehealth has increased their professional satisfaction, and has even led some physicians to delay retirement.

How virtual care is improving healthcare

The use of video conferencing for telehealth revolutionized remote care, making patients more comfortable and allowing providers to deliver better care. Now, the use of augmented reality with smart glasses and head worn tablets is continuing to transform the space.

The use of virtual care has helped to overcome many of the barriers in telehealth, expanding it beyond its former limitations. Remote support from specialists means that patients can be seen in their homes and do not need to be concerned if their home internet connection is fast enough or how to use or gain access to digital devices. Local clinics can now have access to specialists from around the world, enabling one physician to see patients hundreds of miles away and giving patients access to care that might not otherwise exist in their area.

Virtual care is now used in patient care settings for things such as medication management, chronic disease, specialty care, mental and behavioral health, primary care, care coordination, emergency and acute patient care, and even healthcare professional training. Many now feel that it allows them to provide a more comprehensive quality of care and improves convenience for both providers and patients, especially those with disabilities or other limitations.

3 real-world examples of Hippo’s platform in action

Hippo for
First Responders

SickKids Toronto Children’s Hospital has implemented a pilot program for remote care collaboration with Acute Care Transfer Service (ACTS) to help physicians seamlessly interact with the ACTS care team during ambulance transport using the augmented reality (AR) software platform and wearable technology. By sharing information via a live view, emergency physicians are able to quickly evaluate patients via remote access and have continuous end-to-end connectivity with the remote care team, enabling better clinical coordination. By integrating teleconference and AR glasses, the physicians can see and hear what is going on with the patient to better instruct the on-site team and prepare the ER for the incoming patient. This pilot program also allows for improved EMS education as the videos can be used to train future ambulance staff and better prepare them. So far, the program has resulted in a 10% improvement in ambulance availability and reduced delays. Sick Kids Toronto has also seen a 20% reduction in missed cases from unavailable transport services.

Hippo for Dialysis Patients

Hippo’s platform is also being used to treat patients at dialysis clinics in Guatemala. The Bethesda Unidad de Hemodiálisis has three decentralized clinics in Zacapa, Morales, and Coban. Located away from the capital of Guatemala City, it can be hard to find enough nephrology specialists to staff all of the locations. With each clinic taking three or more hours to reach, this was an ongoing problem for patients facing an already overwhelming situation. By using Hippo’s Virtual Care Platform and the RealWear HMT-1 headset, Dr. Weynin Sierra, a nephrologist, is able to monitor patients across all three sites. “Using the headset will save us time. Moving from one unit to another takes 3-4 hours. We save time and decrease costs with the virtual headset. It really is a great help and will allow us to expand our clinics and provide services to more people. The demand for dialysis is enormous and this innovative system allows us to be with our patients in real-time; it feels like you are right there in the room with them.” With the Virtual Care Platform, Dr. Sierra is able to remotely collaborate with on-site internists to see patients in real time and complete rounds at all locations virtually. So far, this system has helped improve patient care by eliminating issues of time, distance, and access. Patients no longer have to wait days to even weeks to see a nephrologist.

Hippo for Medical Education

Barry University in South Florida has implemented Hippo’s platform to help bring clinical experience to their first-year medical students. “Hippo’s technology will enable us to stream doctor-patient visits to our classrooms, providing real-time clinical experience for our first-year students,” said Dr. Robert Snyder of the Barry University Podiatric School of Medicine. The hands-free, voice-activated, head-worn computer allows clinicians to videoconference and communicate remotely in real-time with students in the classroom, giving students a “through the eyes of the clinician” experience and allowing them to learn from one-on-one doctor-patient visits. This first-person view allows students to begin learning valuable bedside manner skills and enhances their clinical experience, giving them access to patient visits early on in their medical education. Dr. Bibi Singh, assistant professor of Podiatric Medicine, stated that the Hippo Virtual Teaching platform “facilitates learning from the clinic to the classroom” by allowing students to be “present” during an appointment or in the operating room with a faculty physician to see what they see, hear what they hear and ask questions.

These are just a subset of the many amazing ways Hippo Virtual Care is helping to reshape healthcare delivery.

Introducing the next generation
of virtual care

Hippo is looking to further streamline video connections by providing seamless collaboration between different video conferencing systems, allowing more hospitals and clinics to easily and securely connect via Hippo’s voice-activated, wearable headsets. Version 2.0 of the Hippo Virtual Care platform is being built to optimize user experience and clinical workflow, allowing for easy integration into routine practice while increasing productivity and collaboration between care teams.

This next generation of virtual care solutions, combining advanced video interoperability with Assisted Reality headsets, will help accelerate the digital transformation of healthcare from telehealth to true telemedicine. According to Hippo’s CEO and Co-founder, Dr Patrick Quinlan: “Current telehealth can be described as a physician-to-patient transaction and is sufficient for primary care settings which often end with an e-prescription, a referral to a specialist or tele-triage to a higher acuity setting. Telemedicine, on the other hand, creates a more advanced collaboration between the remote physician, a caregiver, and the patient. It effectively enables physicians to oversee and guide treatment in real time through clinician extenders on the ground. And that’s where Hippo excels.”

The potential impact on access, cost and convenience is demonstrable, and with specialist physicians already in short supply this is an effective way of scaling clinical capacity while reducing costs. “The addition of intelligent automation and inbuilt clinical workflows will also help to reduce medical errors and ensure the right diagnosis and treatment, first time, every time,” added Dr. Quinlan.