Health

Texas hospital is reportedly 1st in US to use holograms for doctor-patient visits

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(LANCASTER, Texas) — A Texas hospital is reportedly the first in the United States to be using a technology that allows doctors to visit patients via hologram.

Crescent Regional Hospital, located in Lancaster — about 13 miles south of Dallas — has installed “Holobox,” a 3D system that projects a life-sized hologram of a doctor so that they can perform real-time consults with patients at a clinic 30 miles away.

Designed by Dutch company Holoconnects, the display is 86 inches tall and only requires electricity and internet to connect, according to the company.

The box has anti-glare glass and a transparent LCD screen for a life-size and realistic holographic display as well as hi-fi speakers and a multi-touch operating system, according to Holoconnects’ website. The hologram features the image of people either in a pre-recorded video or in live real-time video.

“There’s so much artificial intelligence, robotic technology, so many things,” Crescent Regional Hospital CEO Raji Kumar told ABC affiliate WFAA in Dallas. “So, I’m super excited of being able to bring some of this technology to north Texas.”

Steve Stirling, managing director of Holoconnects for North America, said the company developed the “Dr-Patient Hologram Engagement System” to be used by medical facilities and health care practitioners to engage with patients remotely.

“It has the potential to revolutionize the access and sense of relationship between patients and their healthcare professionals,” Stirling told ABC News via email. “We can provide real-time, life-like access from distant locations which provide patients with access to levels of specialty care from anywhere in the world and also save doctors one of their most precious commodities — time!”

He believes Crescent Regional is the first hospital in the U.S. to be using Holobox.

Kumar said the technology is being used to help reduce doctors’ travel time between Crescent Regional and the hospital’s clinic in Farmers Branch, about 30 miles away.

Doctors can now speak to patients via hologram instead of driving between the hospital and clinic for pre-op, post-op or follow up appointments, according to WFAA.

“Our doctors on the north side of town don’t have to drive 30 miles to see one of their patients,” Kumar told WFAA. “They can just hop into the studio have the consult.”

She plans to install more studios throughout the hospital and in doctors’ offices so more physicians can do holographic visits. Kumar told WFAA she would also like to bring the technology to rural hospitals.

“I plan to give it as a service to rural hospitals,” Kumar said. “To say, ‘Hey, I’ve got all the specialists on board. I will give you the box, I’ll take care of the camera setups for my specialists.'”

“I’m actually trying to do a mini box in a mobile van, so I could take it to underserved areas, okay, where there’s no specialist help,” she added.

Stirling said he is hoping more hospitals will follow suit and roll out similar hologram programs. Holoconnects is working to deploy the Holobox Mini, which has a 22-inch interactive touch-screen display and can more easily be transported.

“Doctor shortage areas are everywhere, and health care facilities are closing so if we can do anything to help make access to care and engagement with healthcare professionals more productive and satisfying to both patients and doctors, this will be a very satisfying result for us,” he said.

Crescent Regional did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment.

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