Products and Services Azure
Industry Health Provider
Organization Size Large (1,000 - 9,999 employees)
The Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer is a university-affiliated hospital that serves as Israel's national medical center in many fields. It is the most comprehensive medical center in the Middle East, renowned for its quality care and leading-edge medicine. It is also a major medical-scientific research powerhouse that collaborates internationally with the biotech and pharmaceutical industries to develop new drugs, treatments and technologies, and a foremost global center for medical education. The medical center’s mission is to deliver excellent, highly innovative, and comprehensive care to all patients without distinction.
HoloLens at the service of medical training in times of crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic marked a time of crisis for the healthcare and medicine segment. Health systems across the globe completely collapsed, and medical teams were required to grasp medical treatment and technical procedures rapidly and efficiently on the move. It might be difficult to recall, but it was only a few months back that the countries were placed in consecutive lockdowns, the skies were hermetically sealed, and people closely followed the number of available ventilators in hospitals.
The staff at the Sheba Medical Center decided to harness the power of technological innovation to provide instruction and training using Microsoft augmented reality (AR) HoloLens headsets. The objective of the first project, called Guides, was to train nurses and other support personnel on the use of ventilator machines that were being deployed by the hundreds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In late February and early March last year, we began to see how health systems around the world were collapsing,” said Adi Ben-Nesher, Lead Industry & Digital Transformation Architect at Microsoft Israel. “At Sheba, the issue was how to take medical teams and nursing staff and train them to provide treatment for something about which they knew almost nothing, as was the case of ventilators.”
The first COVID-19 department in Israel was established at Sheba. Routine training and instruction processes generated a heavy burden on the system, which was proving to be inefficient and slow. Sheba and Microsoft discussed the needs, and it was decided that the hospital would implement remote training and practice, which are quite common in the world of medicine.
“At the time, there was a limited number of our HoloLens headsets in the world,” says Ben-Nesher. “I contacted the product's global manager and asked that we engage in a project together, during which Sheba would develop instruction sessions on the HoloLens and then share the lessons with hospitals in the USA, Great Britain, and other countries. In essence, the idea was to create a professional network of medical training. We received the go ahead to distribute 25 HoloLens headsets amongst the hospitals, and Sheba received five. The hospital used them primarily to train nurses and other personnel to use the ventilators that had begun being deployed in the hospital in increasing quantities.”
As most people, Shiraz Shushan, a nurse at Sheba’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), had some idea of what augmented and virtual reality are. But she gained firsthand knowledge of the HoloLens technology in a briefing she underwent on ventilator operation. “In terms of technology, it's simply amazing,” she said, “I felt I was in a Harry Potter movie.”
During the instruction with the headset, Shushan experienced several scenarios on a ventilator type she had not been familiar with before. “One of the key advantages of the technology is that it works on several layers of the brain – you hear it talk, see the presentation in front of you, and also physically touch the ventilator. The more senses involved simultaneously, the better the brain can recall. I ‘tested’ myself later to check what my brain remembered, and it was incredible. It also gave me a sense of empowerment that I can learn and embrace new technologies.”
Prof. Amitai Ziv, founder and director of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation (MSR) and Head of the Virtualization in Medicine Innovation Hub at the Accelerate, Redesign & Collaborate (ARC) Innovation Center at Sheba Medical Center, explains the approach: “The world of extended reality, including AR, is developing at an accelerated pace and is rapidly turning into a key player in a variety of medical, treatment, rehabilitation, and instructional applications. Breaching the existing boundaries and integrating state-of-the-art, extended-reality technological tools is part of the vision that places the patient at the center and enables us to provide more personal, precise healthcare that is optimally tailored to the needs of each person."
The Guides project whetted Sheba’s appetite for more technology. The hospital’s management and staff believe that medicine will be much better if it is aided by technological tools.
In addition, Sheba has also begun migrating large amounts of data to Azure cloud, where they can run models and analyze and manage their medical and clinical work more intelligently. Today, they see technology as part and parcel of the world of medicine and nursing. Not only does it help medical teams be more efficient in the treatment they give, but patients benefit from better care.