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Virtual reality device set to improve inpatient diabetes care

By Editor
29th August 2019
Inpatient, Technology

An “immersive digital environment” is being rolled out across Portsmouth and Southampton in a bid to increase diabetes care in hospital.

Healthcare professionals are being given the opportunity to learn more about diabetes-related complications by using a virtual reality training system.

The device, developed by Oxford Medical Simulation, is being trialled at the Queen Alexandra Hospital and Southampton General Hospital so inpatient teams can learn how to manage medical emergencies in a digital environment via a headset.

The project is being led by Dr Partha Kar from Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, with the help of clinicians including Dr Mayank Patel, a consultant diabetologist at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Kar, also NHS England’s associate national clinical director for diabetes, said: “Embracing technology is at the heart of the NHS long term plan and training doctors using virtual reality is another example of modernising the NHS to help improve care for patients with diabetes.”

The headset puts the user in fast-paced, repeatable, real-life scenarios, which forces them to have to make decisions under pressure and carry out crisis resource management.

The patient case studies are acutely unwell and the user must manage them aa they would in real life, performing investigations, instigating treatment and interacting with their interdisciplinary team against the clock.

Dr Patel said: “Ensuring clinicians are trained effectively to spot potential and manage confirmed diabetes in emergency situations promptly is vital and this immersive digital environment is an innovative way to do that.

“So far we have trialled the system with 10 doctors and the feedback has been really positive, with all of them feeling much more confident about recognising the signs and taking appropriate action.

“Patients with type 1 diabetes in particular are at higher risk of developing serious glucose-related problems when in hospital due to extreme highs and lows in their blood sugar levels,.

“Diabetes emergency situations can escalate quickly and can sometimes be difficult for non-specialists doctors and nurses to recognise, so it is hoped that increased education and training around diabetes in hospital can markedly improve the current statistics.”

Photo credit: Hammer & Tusk

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