London: High-tech smart glasses will be worn by community nurses during home visits in a bid to free up time with patients in a cutting-edge trial in the east of England announced on Saturday by the UK National Health Service (NHS).
The state-funded health service said that as long as a patient consents, the VR-style headset could transcribe the appointment directly into electronic records, reducing time-consuming administrative tasks for nurses.
Staff will be able to share live images directly with colleagues in the hospital to get a second opinion, avoiding having to have further appointments or hospital admissions, and include thermal imaging to help assess how sores and wounds have healed.
“Some of the best innovations come from local solutions and through this project NHS staff can test what works for them and what provides the best possible patient care,” said Dr Tim Ferris, NHS Director for the transformation.
“These new smart glasses are the latest pioneering technology and really show us what the future of the NHS could look like – they are a win-win solution for staff and patients, freeing up time for nurses which means more time for patient care,” he said.
The glasses, which also help nurses find their next appointment that day and check how long it will take them to get there based on live travel updates, will be tested in the north Lincolnshire and Goole from next week.
It is estimated that community nurses spend more than half their day filling out forms and manually entering patient data.
The pilot project will help expand their capacity, giving them more time for clinical tasks such as checking blood pressure, dressing wounds and assessing the patient’s relevant health needs, NHS England said in granting the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust £400,000 to test the technology as part of a wider innovation project to fund a further 16 pilot projects over the next few months.
It is part of the NHS’s long-term plan to deploy the latest cutting-edge technology, while rolling out new innovations and treatments to patients across the country.
Earlier this year, the NHS announced that patients with Parkinson’s disease would receive life-changing smartwatches that allow doctors to remotely assess their condition in a pioneering project.
Clinical nurse specialist Becky Birchall said her team is thrilled to be the first in the country to take the smart glasses on community visits.
“We are delighted to be the first NHS team in England to try out the smart glasses and look forward to taking them on our community visits to see our patients,” said Birchall.
“We currently spend a lot of time writing down our patient visits and these state-of-the-art glasses will really help reduce the time we have to spend on administration, helping us take care of our patients,” she said.
“The glasses have a thermal imaging feature, which I think will be particularly useful to us when examining wounds and these features will really help us provide the best possible care to our patients,” she added.
The pilot is one of 17 projects from 16 healthcare organizations to receive a £6m share of the Digital PODAC Unified Tech Fund – set up by NHS England to harness the potential of digital technologies to support the care delivery in the ambulance and community health services sectors.