A “virtual nurse” who greets visitors and reminds them about the need for good hand hygiene is being trialled at University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust.
It is the first time the futuristic approach to infection control has been tried in the UK.
A hologram is produced by reflecting high definition video projectors on to a specially developed material to give a clear image. It can be set to appear as different people or animations, and the pre-recorded messages it speaks can be changed to reflect current information.
Should the trial be successful, the trust plans to introduce more virtual nurse units and to expand their role to include “way-finding” services, as well as giving area-specific information.
A short, two hour trial of the virtual nurse in November suggested it could substantially increase the use of hand gel. The number of visitors using sanitiser placed at the entrance to the hospital increased from 2.1% to 33% when the virtual nurse was switched on.
Trevor Payne, the trust’s director of estates and facilities, said the virtual nurse helped promote key messages in a “consistent and compelling manner”.
“Raising awareness through high-profile initiatives like this enables us to educate our patients, visitors and staff alike,” he said.
The trial will be funded by the trust’s cleaning services provider Interserve Facilities Management. A spokesman said there would no cost to the NHS.