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Provide Community Transforms Clinical and Community Care with RealWear Smart Glasses

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  • 2024
  • February
  • Provide Community Transforms Clinical and Community Care with RealWear Smart Glasses
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RealWear, the pioneer of smart glasses for frontline workers, has announced that Provide Community, an employee-owned community interest company with headquarters in Essex, UK successfully deployed RealWear smart glasses. The unique smart glasses enable real-time communication between community care clinicians and Podiatrists for clinics dispersed across the region.

Provide Community, which employs over 1,200 people across Essex, the East of England, Dorset and the North of England, serving a population of 11 million people, delivers a broad range of health and social care services and works from a variety of community settings, such as community hospitals, community clinics, residential care homes and primary care settings, as well as within peoples’ homes.

Through its internal Innovation Tree initiative, Provide Community encourages ideas from across the entire workforce with an emphasis on service transformation. Through the innovation tree a clinical member of the team presented an idea for wearable technology to support real-time communication between individual staff and wider teams to support delivery of care in communities. Further exploration with the clinical teams established opportunities within Community Nursing to reduce two person and repeat visits.

Prior to deploying RealWear smart glasses, following a preliminary visit and patient assessment, team members had to schedule a follow up appointment with a more senior clinician to accompany them. The new solution enables clinicians to video stream appointments in real-time with colleagues and receive immediate support from them. While primarily used as a two-way video collaboration solution with a front-facing camera to let the remote person see through the eyes of the smart glasses’ wearer, the hands-free solution also has the ability to take photos of the patients by simply saying, “Take Photo.” Once taken the photos are transferred immediately to the remote clinician’s computer for further analysis and advice.

Provide Community currently has deployed 35 RealWear Navigator® 500 smart glasses. Users can navigate the device without the use of their hands, with no tethered wires for safety. The device offers third-party apps and other cloud-based services with a rugged and comfortable design. The voice-controlled user interface includes unique noise-cancelling technology for high-noise environments, enabling seamless communication between teams of healthcare professionals.

Improving Patient Care through Virtual Education with RealWear

This initiative led to collaboration with Provide Community’s podiatry team to primarily focus on supporting recently qualified podiatrists and junior team members. Recruiting or attracting experienced podiatrists is a challenge and prior to the RealWear deployment in-person supervision for junior / recently qualified team members was necessary.  Experienced podiatrists being required to physically travel to a site to offer the direct support for less experienced podiatrists was fraught with practicality issues, including the potential need for clinic rescheduling and cancellations, This realisation prompted the idea of utilising headsets, enabling them to provide virtual support. This eliminated the need for in-person presence and reduces the requirement for an additional appointment for the patient. Anyone could join a call from any location, ensuring clinics ran smoothly.

The introduction of RealWear smart glasses has expanded the podiatry team’s skill set with the majority of new learners now being supported through the use of smart glasses and speaking with experienced professionals via a video call. The deployment has resulted in an increase in reach and capacity of experienced podiatrists in the team by 50%, and the same level of care can be provided while maintaining safety, effectiveness, satisfaction and avoiding delays.

The initiative received recognition as a regional winner in the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2023 and supported Provide in winning the Business Culture award for Building a Culture of Innovation in 2023.

Kez Spelman, Director of Innovation and Community Resilience at Provide Community, emphasised the criteria for selecting the technology: “RealWear’s simplicity, durability and ruggedness meant that its devices stood out from a clinical perspective. It’s important to note that this solution is not about replacing people or the human touch that’s so central to compassionate care; it’s about facilitating on-the-job learning through a communication system, creating an experience that closely resembles having an experienced professional in the room.”

“I’ve gathered feedback from users who have tried the headsets, and aside from my own observations, there’s been particularly intriguing input from those who simply explored the device out of curiosity,” commented Steve Woodford, Digital Innovation Project Manager at Provide Community. “They’ve expressed genuine admiration for two key aspects—the impressive view provided by the viewfinder and the surprisingly intuitive nature of the voice activation feature. It’s noteworthy how quickly people catch on to using it, and the voice commands have garnered quite a bit of positive attention. I’ve even had instances where observers were sceptical at first but were pleasantly surprised when they took control and the device responded promptly to their commands.”

“There is a realisation that people recover better in their own homes and the emphasis now and as we move into the future includes maximising care delivery to people in their homes. People are more comfortable at home and this preference contributes to better outcomes with Realwear tech offering support for this principle of care,” added Kez Spelman.

“Our smart glasses are taking off as a cost-efficient way to support the NHS’s digital transformation efforts to provide improved and faster patient care at a much lower cost,” said Dr. Chris Parkinson, CEO and Co-Founder of RealWear. “We encourage the NHS Trusts and others to bring RealWear smart glasses into its standard offering for its professionals.”

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