NHS trials smart goggles to give nurses more time with patients

High tech goggles will be worn by community nurses on home visits to free up time with patients, as part of a cutting-edge NHS pilot.

As long as a patient consents, the virtual reality style headset can transcribe the appointment directly to electronic records, reducing time-consuming admin for nurses.

Staff will be able to share live footage directly with hospital colleagues to get a second opinion, avoiding the need for further appointments or hospital admission, and includes thermal imaging to help assess how wounds and injuries have healed.

The glasses, which also help nurses look up their next appointment that day and check how long it will take to get there based on live travel updates, will be trialled in Northern Lincolnshire and Goole from next week.

Community nurses are estimated to spend more than half of their day filling out forms and manually inputting patient data.

The pilot will help to expand their capacity, giving them more time for clinical tasks such as checking blood pressure, dressing wounds and assessing patient’s relevant health needs.

NHS England awarded the trust £400,000 to test the technology as part of a wider innovation project, which is set to fund a further 16 pilot projects over the coming months.

The NHS Long Term Plan committed to deploying the latest cutting-edge technologies 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 be given life-changing smartwatches that allow doctors to remotely assess their condition in a pioneering project to revolutionise NHS care.

NHS director for transformation Dr Tim Ferris said: “Some of the best innovations come from local solutions and so through this project, NHS staff can test what works for them and what provides the best possible care for patients.

“These new smart glasses are the latest pioneering tech and really show us what the future of the NHS could look like – they are a win-win for staff and patients alike, freeing up time consuming admin for nurses, meaning more time for patient care”.

Minister for Health, Maria Caulfield, said: “Health and care research is crucial to transforming our health service and ensure the NHS is able to deliver world-class care.

“These new high-tech goggles have the potential to revolutionise the way community nurses carry out home visits – reducing admin and increasing the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment.

“Yet again, this technology is testament to the UK’s innovation and our front-footedness in the discovery of ground-breaking research which can help us beat the COVID backlogs”.

The tech will be rolled out this summer in areas run by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, with local patients informed about the project and explicitly asked if they consent for the technology to be used and their data to be recorded.

The software dubbed A.Consult, was developed by Concept Health, a company founded by a GP, to run on the smart glasses built by  ThirdEye.

If they agree, patient data will be transferred securely to the electronic patient record system.

Clinical nurse specialist Becky Birchall said her team were thrilled to be the first in the country to take them on community visits.

Becky said: “We’re so excited to be the first NHS team in England to try the smart glasses out and can’t wait to take them out on our community visits to see our patients.

“We currently spend a considerable amount of time writing up our visits to patients and these cutting-edge goggles will really help to cut down the time we need to keep for admin, supporting us to care for our patients. The glasses have a thermal imaging feature, which I think will be particularly useful for us when we are examining wounds and these features are going to really help us provide the best possible care for our patients”.

Farhan Amin, practicing GP and founder of ConceptHealth, said: “We’re proud to have partnered with NLaG to trial this technology in community services. Aside from the clear benefits A.Consult will bring in terms of reducing the administrative burden on staff, we’re keen to explore the longer-term impact the glasses will have in terms of improving productivity.

“As the smart glasses learn from each patient encounter, it will automate key tasks currently performed manually giving staff time back to deliver holistic person-centred care to each patient”.

The pilot is one of 17 projects across 16 healthcare organisations to receive a share of £6 million of the Digital PODAC Unified Tech Fund – set up by NHS England to unlock the potential of digital technologies to support the delivery of care within the ambulance and community health service sectors.

Thirdeye’s CEO Nick Cherukuri said: “ThirdEye was founded off a belief that mixed reality & AI solutions could change life as we know it. We are excited about this partnership for Healthcare use by NHS with ThirdEye smart glasses and Concept Health’s platform we are confident our end-to-end ecosystems is a true breakthrough.”