Technology from Microsoft helps Michigan Medicine adapt to medical education and care 


U-M’s ongoing partnership with Microsoft is having long term implications for the advancement of technology in healthcare, thanks to equipment that helps U-M deliver virtual training solutions and critical healthcare. 

Three recent collaborations developed innovative programs that will outlast the pandemic scenario that created them. While healthcare has been traditionally a face to face practice, the last 15 months have shown us that creative technological solutions can help deliver training and care in new, creative, and more accessible ways.

Collaborations rooted in mutually beneficial goals are the most successful models. These examples fall into that category: Michigan Medicine helps educate staff and students and care for patients while Microsoft pursues new applications for XR and advances their mission of healthcare technology.

These three initiatives are some of many at the University of Michigan working to develop AR/VR projects that make academic environments and patient care more accessible.


Cancer treatment care training – anywhere

The rapid evolution of chemotherapy drug treatment needs rapid implementation of training to keep medical staff up to date on the best care of patients. Chemotherapy Safety Training through a University of Michigan program had been really helpful in providing high demand training needs – but then the pandemic hit. 

U-M quickly identified the challenges that virtual training face in rural and remote areas where connectivity can be challenging. A substantial proportion of participants practice in either a rural (14.6%) or a socially disadvantaged (17.1%) area, often lacking internet connections or laptops and wifi at home, which is where they would log in to training. U-M School of Nursing faculty Michelle Aebersold wanted to establish a pool of portable computers (such as Surface tablets) to send out to participants without access to the internet or equipment of their own. She turned to Microsoft for help.

They responded by providing 10 Surface Pro/Go LTE tablets and a Surface Hub. Using this technology, the team created virtual training programs so nurses and pharmacists, regardless of location, could learn about updated education on safe delivery of chemotherapy and how to respond to patient emergencies while receiving chemotherapy. 

The program is also developing digital resources and purchased two HoloLens 2 devices for live stream/live capture of simulated events for the training. These will stream during in-person workshops and plan to use a Microsoft Hub for the program.


AR/VR practice inserting a catheter

Procedure practice

If you’ve ever had an IV inserted, you’ve come to appreciate the substantial training received by the nurse doing the procedure. This kind of training for nursing students was hard to reimagine in the midst of a pandemic, with the standard in person practice unavailable to students. It’s not quite the kind of thing you can teach over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and as patients know, training and experience is very important. That’s where a collaboration with Microsoft came in extremely handy and helped to supplement the experience and education for young nursing students at the University of Michigan. 

Using Microsoft’s HoloLens2 platform, U-M worked with Microsoft to develop an augmented reality platform to teach procedures, like starting an IV, placing a urinary catheter, and placing a central line. The application has been wildly successful, with three simulations in place and plans for 15 more in the years to come. 


Patient rounding gets technical

Medical staff and students rounding with a patientTechnology that simulated patient rounds got an upgrade during the pandemic, when the ability for a medical team to discuss next steps in patient care at the patient’s bedside was challenged by so many factors.

Creating a new initiative for Medical and Surgical XR involving 10 clinical departments, Michigan Medicine again collaborated with Microsoft to explore use of the virtual and augmented reality technology in rounding.

Through Microsoft’s HoloLens2 technology, one person conducts rounds wearing the Hololens2 headset connected via software to a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call, where the rest of the rounding team can be in multiple remote locations, even internationally. The team is brought right to the bedside and can interact with the patient and see the headset wearer perform a physical exam or evaluate the patient.

Successful implementation of the program has faculty interested in a variety of applications for other clinical uses.

Mark Cohen, professor of surgery and of pharmacology, Medical School; and professor of biomedical engineering, Medical School and College of Engineering, was awarded a U-M Provost Teaching and Innovation Award for this work.


Collaborations Abound

These examples serve as some of the initial applications that are changing the face of medicine every day at the University of Michigan. Providing Microsoft AR/VR technology to clinicians and students to develop on the job, practical ideas through a shift to virtual medical care is improving outcomes for students and patients. And there is plenty more to come.


The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing is ranked #6 in the country.

Michigan Medicine is the #1 ranked hospital in the state of Michigan and #11th ranked hospital in the country. 

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