Device Takes Telehealth to New Level with 3D Real-Time Visuals of Patients (by Meaghan Branham)

“Dr. Hologram” sounds like a character from the pages of a science fiction novel rather than a classroom teaching aide. The University of Central Florida, however, is writing it into the world of health care education, providing students with real-world innovation that was once confined to the imagination: a technology that projects a life-sized person in hologram form, beaming in the patient from a video recording or in real-time from anywhere in the world.

Before it joined the UCF faculty, the affectionately nicknamed device was largely used in entertainment and known more commonly by its actual name: the PORTL. It is a product of PORTL Inc., founded by award-winning writer, producer, podcaster and entrepreneur David Nussbaum in 2019. The device was displayed at Comic-Con, the Saturn Awards of the Academy of Science Fiction, the televised iHeartRadio Music Festival, and the 2020 Emmys on the red carpet.

Then Bari Hoffman, associate dean of clinical affairs for the UCF College of Health Professions and Sciences, saw it for the first time.

“I immediately thought of how this could be used to engage our students,” she said. “We knew we wanted to make the technology work to meet our needs so we could continue to train contemporary and compassionate health care providers. This is helping us close the gap we were experiencing in trying to expose our students to a wide variety of conditions they might see in the field.”