The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust in the UK has begun using head-mounted tablets and software developed by US-based healthcare technology company RealWear.

The Trust’s Trauma and Orthopaedic Department will use RealWear’s Navigator 500 to help students learn and safely experience orthopaedic operating theatre procedures in real time.

RealWear said that before deploying its technology, the department could only accommodate a limited number of students in an operating theatre at one time.

The RealWear Navigator 500 is a lightweight head-mounted system that runs on Microsoft Teams.

The system has an adjustable point-of-view camera and features video stabilisation and precision zoom features, which allow students to view procedures clearly from the surgeon’s perspective.

When a surgeon performs a live surgery wearing a RealWear device, students can directly observe the procedure ‘through the surgeon’s eyes’.

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They can ask questions during the procedure and the surgeon can respond using the device’s inbuilt speakers and microphone.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust trauma and orthopaedics consultant Nick Cooke said: “Since deploying RealWear wearables, we can now provide more individuals with operating theatre experience in a single day than we typically would in an entire year, while giving them a significantly enhanced learning opportunity.

“The technology has enabled us to accommodate a diverse group of students, including those training to be paramedics, radiographers and physiotherapists to name a few.”

The adoption of RealWear’s technology is part of the department’s strategy to introduce more student practice placements.

The broader aim is to address skill shortages across a wide demographic of specialisms.

RealWear co-founder and CEO Dr Chris Parkinson said: “Our hands-free solutions are a game changer for healthcare, allowing a large audience of students to gather in one room and remotely observe medical procedures with zero obstructions.

“This dramatically accelerates the learning process for all in real time.”