While Microsoft Kinect controller has become very popular among the gaming crowd, a new study has found that it could also prove to be a boon for US healthcare as using it to conduct interactions between patients and physicians or other medics can cut down the healthcare bill in the country by as much as $30 billion by reducing the number of hospital visits and the risk of infection.
Writing in the latest issue of the International Journal of Electronic Finance, Janet Bailey of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is working with Bradley Jensen of Microsoft Corporation, in Irving, Texas, to explain how gaming technology could be used to "teleport" the knowledge and skills of healthcare workers to where they are needed. This could cut patient transport costs for those who live considerable distances from suitable hospitals and health centers and would also lower the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
The team suggests that a laptop, a $150 Kinect, an Azure connection, and an Office 365 account, all costing a few hundred dollars could replace or augment existing telemedicine systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars. "The Kinect allows doctors to control the system without breaking the sterile field via hand gestures and voice commands with a goal of reducing the direct cost of healthcare associated infections to hospitals and patients," the team explains.
The team has demonstrated that the system works even where only low-bandwidth and unreliable connectivity is available. They point out that redundancy is built into the communications systems as video transmission does not rely on concurrent audio, and sharing images relies on neither audio nor video. Their Kinect system known as Collaboration and Annotation of Medical Images (CAMI) is, the team says, "Not anticipated to be a panacea to the telemedicine environment but it is a powerful tool that can be affordable in virtually any community that has existing technology and communication infrastructure."