Digital & Innovation

Sanofi launches augmented reality technology to support people with haemophilia

Health Industry Hub | May 30, 2022 |
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Digital & Innovation: A first-of-its-kind augmented reality technology has been unveiled at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) to enable young people living with haemophilia to view the potentially irreversible impact of disabling joint disease and help them stay on track with treatment.

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) is the first hospital in the country to receive the Joint Scanner provided on loan by Sanofi. It uses augmented reality to show patients with haemophilia disorders what their joints will look like 10, 20, 30 years in the future both with and without treatment. The scanner aims to educate patients about the impact of haemophilic arthropathy over the course of a lifetime, as well as reinforcing the importance of therapy compliance.

Robyn Shoemark, Clinical Nurses Consultant in Haematology at CHW, said “Pictures often say more than words and this is what I think the scanner will do. We can talk about the benefits of doing treatment and the consequences of not doing treatment, but what this scanner does is show our patients and their family what this looks like and how this will impact them throughout the life. It makes it much more real.”

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Treatment for haemophilia is often self-administered at home, with patients and parents being responsible for treatment compliance. If a treatment is missed, it can cause a “bleed” and lead to bruising and joint swelling. Short-term, the effect of this is minor but if treatments are continually missed over time, it can result in long-term, irreversible damage.

“Bleeds are painful and even having one bleed is one too many for people with haemophilia,” Robyn said.

“We hope this scanner will help us educate our patients, particularly our teenagers, about why regular treatment is important because even though they may feel fine missing a treatment here or there now, they may be causing themselves long-term damage that will impact their lives in the future.”

The Scanner utilises a ‘leap motion’ 3D camera attached to a computer to scan and map a person’s hand when placed under the device. A specially designed software then overlays imagery onto the user’s hand to replicate normal ageing and the impact of joint disease. While the Scanner uses only the user’s hand as its reference point, it cleverly allows the user to expand the replicated view on the screen beyond the hand to see what is happening elsewhere in the body, focusing on specific joints known to be impacted by haemophilia including the shoulder, knee, or ankle.

“Technological advances like Augmented Reality, seen in this Joint Scanner, allow healthcare professionals to bring important health education to life that directly engages their patients. We know improved health education can help patients make informed decisions about managing their health conditions,” said Murray White, Joint Scanner developer from Crash Bang Wallop.

Tim Demos, 28 who lives with haemophilia A, said the Scanner provides an insightful and startling lens into what life can look like if he doesn’t continue to pay attention to his haemophilia management.

“I’ve always felt I had a pretty good handle on managing my haemophilia, but even so, it’s easy to disregard the impact of my condition in the next ten years. This scanner has helped to strengthen my understanding that what I do now will determine how I live with my haemophilia for the rest of my life,” said Tim.

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