A new trial highlights the power of virtual care to remove barriers to remote aged populations

Southern Cross Care (SCC) is a not-for-profit aged care provider that has supported thousands of older Australians for more than 50 years.

In an attempt to address four key challenges faced by Australian aged care providers — workforce shortages, infection control, general practitioner access, and financial sustainability — SCC has been thinking outside the box.   

While SCC continues to work tirelessly to recruit and retain staff, it also recognizes the benefits of investing in technology to ensure timely access to healthcare professionals, including wound care consultants.

With that in mind, SCC made an investment in the Hippo Virtual Care™ platform which team members trialed at their Thornton Park residential care home in Western Sydney in 2022. The trial’s success led SCC to acquire 40 Assisted Reality headsets, so all their residential aged care homes have access. They are in the process of rolling these out and training staff.

Realtime AR, the APAC partner for Hippo Technologies, Inc. and the master distributor of Moziware’s cimo headset, worked with SCC as their solutions provider to assist them with the introduction and subsequent successful integration of this technology, encompassing both hardware and software, within their aged care facilities.

Hippo’s platform features the latest Assisted Reality (Kopin licensed) medical headsets from Moziware designed with high-resolution Golden Pearl display and optic module with built-in headphones and microphones that allow users to communicate with off-site staff members via WiFi, as well as a dual high-definition camera enabling them to see what the user sees. The cimo headset is the world’s first pocket-sized, voice-enabled wearable computer, delivering new capabilities for virtual collaboration, data capture and visual guidance technology.

The headsets, in combination with Hippo Virtual Care software employ video streaming and two-way audio for consultations, enabling expert guidance and education, troubleshooting assistance, and step-by-step visual instructions for multiple participants.

The units are activated by voice commands, which frees on-site staff to use their hands for more important tasks and remain focused on their residents’ needs. This is also a fundamental key in infection prevention management. Users can also use the headsets to access manuals, images, or other documents without having to carry physical copies or pause tasks to search for information. The headsets also promote anti-infection and non-touch techniques, as they are compatible with PPE safety glasses, face masks, and goggles to maximize resident and staff safety.

Staff can use the platform to capture photos or video, work processes, equipment problems, or completed tasks. That documentation can then be used for quality control, reporting, or sharing best practices with team members. The headsets are augmented by separate Android tablets, which allow staff to enter real-time resident and client data into their care management system during consultations.



Breaking Through the Remote Care Barrier

While the Hippo Virtual Care solution has been used in various clinical settings, including in hospital ICU departments and first responder emergencies, SCC was the first provider to use the Hippo platform in an aged care setting. The trial highlighted the headset’s usefulness in this environment.

During the trial, SCC staff used the headsets primarily to seek advice on improved treatment options for wound care. Staff on the ground used the platform to interact with off-site experts who helped assess each resident and provide insights and advice about their wound presentation, classification and recommended wound management plan. Staff also captured photo images of residents’ wounds via the scale feature on the device, which can be used to measure wound sizes and uploaded into the residents’ clinical notes.

Based on positive feedback from SCC staff, as well as improved wound healing, the aged care provider deemed the trial a success.

Richal Ghimire, facility manager of the Thornton Park facility, said the headset is “easy to wear” and “very positive and beneficial.”  

“The trial headset enabled timely, real-time, and detailed consultations with an internal wound specialist, resulting in quick wound healing and comfort for the resident,” said Richal. “This form of virtual care holds immense potential for clinical care and education and efficiency. It carries numerous benefits, including minimizing delay in delivering care via prompt review, maintaining compliance via education and training, and saving money via reduced traveling and increased productivity – which is a huge support for regional homes.”

Due to a shortage of general practitioners in some regional areas, SCC and other providers can find it challenging for GPs and other specialists to visit regional facilities and assess residents. Hippo’s next-generation virtual care platform could be a solution to this gap in accessing care, especially in Australia’s regional and remote communities where 60% of SCC’s services are located.

According to Dr. Patrick Quinlan, CEO of Hippo Technologies, “The expanse of Australia presents unique challenges that only advanced virtual care can feasibly overcome. The ideal treatment for wound care is both early and effective and requires collaborative expertise, which can be severely hindered by distance from care providers, and which, until the advent of Hippo, was impossible to scale. By pioneering the useful application of Hippo for wound care and care for the aged, Southern Cross has broken through that barrier.”

Learn how you can remove barriers to prompt care and improve outcomes with the Hippo Virtual Care™ platform.

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