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Healthcare

Visit Your Physician Via Hologram at This North Texas Hospital

Crescent Regional Hospital in Lancaster is the first hospital in the country to partner with Dutch company Holoconnects.
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A patient meets with the physician via the Holobox. In order to capture the hologram on camera, the lights have to be dimmed and patients usually meet in fully lit rooms. Courtesy: Crescent Regional Hospital

At Crescent Regional Hospital in Lancaster, the future is now. The forward-thinking hospital partnered with the Dutch hologram company Holoconnects to allow patients to communicate with their physicians via three-dimensional holograms.

Crescent is the first hospital in the country to partner with Holoconnects, a Dutch hologram company. The hospital’s 86-inch Holobox projects a life-size hologram in real time for patients to consult with an offsite provider. “The results have been very promising, especially with patient engagement,” says Crescent CEO Raji Kumar. “Hospital patients feel like they’re speaking to the physician in person. The 3-D effect is actually quite magical.”

The hologram, Kumar says, provides a more realistic and engaging patient experience than video or phone calls with remote physicians. Crescent has a Holobox room where patients can meet with their providers, and Kumar says she is also using the Holobox to meet with patients as they are discharged. While patients see the holographic image projected by the device, physicians access the Holobox via a device with cameras and microphones that help create the holographic image. Right now, there is a device in Farmers Branch at Crescent’s specialty care clinic where many of the hospital’s specialists operate. The goal is to have a Holobox device in all specialist offices for Crescent’s physicians to holographically connect with patients in the Lancaster hospital.

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The device used to project the hologram to the patient from the physician's perspective. Courtesy: Crescent Regional Hospital

Right now, the device is being used for pre- or post-op appointments and check-ins with a physician who is in the clinic or working offsite. The hospital plans to install additional hologram devices throughout Crescent and hopes to launch a portable hologram projector that could come into individual patient rooms. R2-D2 would be proud!

Kumar has a reputation for resuscitating struggling hospitals and helped turn around Dallas Medical Center when she joined as CEO in 2010. The hospital’s finances improved, and it was purchased by Prime Healthcare Services in 2012. Crescent Regional Hospital has had a similar trajectory. The former HCA facility shut down in 2009, and the next owner could not make the hospital work. Kumar purchased the 77-bed acute care hospital in 2018 and is focusing on being a community hospital with a boutique surgical focus. She embraces technology and wants Crescent to be a “hospital of the future.” The Holobox is part of those plans.

In 2020, Kumar purchased Hill Regional Medical Center from Community Health Systems with similar goals. The critical access hospital in Hillsboro, Texas, is the only hospital within a 35-mile radius. “My passion is preventing rural and critical access hospitals from closing,” Kumar says.

As Kumar leans into remote care technologies, AI, and robotics, she wants Crescent to be a leader in supporting rural and critical access hospitals, raising the acuity of the care they can provide through technology. She envisions a mobile unit equipped with a Holobox to allow physician specialists to meet with patients in rural hospitals that lack many specialists. “We are letting our creativity flow in how to utilize this technology,” Kumar says. “What can we do to reduce that time from diagnosis to treatment?”

In a hospital environment plagued by bankruptcies, Kumar is aware of the challenges facing all hospitals but acutely felt by independent facilities and small systems. Part of overcoming those challenges is being a trusted voice in the community. Crescent is embracing its neighbors by offering the cafeteria to seniors at a discount, hosting a 500-kid Easter egg hunt, and being active in serving DeSoto and Lancaster. It opened a nonprofit clinic to care for the large uninsured population in the area.

In addition to being active in the community and building trust among potential patients, the hospital is diversifying by growing its network of primary care physicians, launching a spine surgery program, and building a cath lab. The hospital is also preparing for robotic-assisted spine surgeries and building a brain lab.

As Kumar continues her work turning around and rejuvenating hospitals on the brink of closure, she is leaning into what’s next for healthcare and embracing the community. “Let’s focus on what we need to do to position ourselves for the future,” she says.

Author

Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…
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