Kinect may cut US healthcare costs

Microsoft’s Kinect game controller could be adapted to cut US heathcare bills by as much as 30 billion dollars in total, by allowing physicians and other medics to interact with patients remotely.

The communications planning of the healthcare industry could use the gaming technology to “teleport” the knowledge and skills of healthcare workers to where they are needed, according to Janet Bailey of the University of Arkansas, writing in the latest issue of the International Journal of Electronic Finance. Ms Bailey is working with Bradley Jensen of the Microsot Corporation in Irving, Texas on the project, which could cut costs for those living a considerable distance from a suitable hospital, and would also lower the risk of hospital-acquired infections.

This digital strategy could involve a laptop, a Kinect system, an Azure connection and an Office 365 account, all of which cost a few hundred pounds, but could also replace or add to existing systems that cost considerably more. The team explain that hand gestures and voice commands that do not break the sterile field could have huge benefits.

The digital nature of the technology means that the system could work even in areas of low bandwidth or unreliable connectivity, as the communications systems and the sharing of images do not rely on concurrent audio or video.

In promoting the Kinect system they have developed, known as Collaboration and Annotation of Medical Images (CAMI), the team commented that the system was “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.”