ANIMA RES, a developer for Microsoft HoloLens developed the visually stunning INSIGHT Heart app with the premise of being the first of many in a planned series of medical education apps. The INSIGHT Heart app is certainly intriguing since the prospect of studying a beating heart is something that many anatomists and physiologists have dreamed about forever. INSIGHT Heart presents itself as a medical app, which is sort of true, but here at ARinMed we want to take a look at the app from a medical point of view and pinpoint the pros and the cons for its use in the medical profession.
For starters, we have to say that the graphics in INSIGHT Heart are AMAZING! INSIGHT truly delivers the experience of seeing an actual “beating heart” right in front of you. The few pathologies explored in the app do enable viewing of modifications from which cardiac structures suffer – with what appears to be anatomical and physiological precision. Medical students will certainly be stunned when they take a look at this app. It’s an amazing way to deliver medical education, We’re sure of it. It really feels like the guys at ANIMA RES did their homework. But intrigue and graphics aside, the experience wanes after a while.
It bothers us that EKG visualization is not integrated into the app. It should not have been difficult or expensive to integrate EKG visualization. Frankly, what is the point of looking at an atrial fibrillation if you can’t recognize it on an EKG? EKG remains an aspect of medical education that could stand some improvement. With integrated EKG visualization, this app would become a very valuable tool in medical education. We think ANIMA RES missed an opportunity here.
Cardiac auscultation is a difficult physical exam maneuver to learn, physicians need to auscultate hundreds of patients until being able to effectively differentiate cardiac sounds – even differentiating from normal auscultation. Littmann and 3M have done an amazing job providing auscultation “sound demos” for ear-training, but they have the same problem as INSIGHT: There needs to be a higher audio fidelity dispositive to really hear all of the distinctive sounds as they should be heard. Integrating the ‘sound demos’ with greater audio fidelity into INSIGHT was another opportunity missed.
WE BELIEVE there are several other pathologies (such as cardiac valvulopathies) that could also benefit from a tool like INSIGHT. With further development, INSIGHT could also be a valuable tool, simulating procedures like transverse or coronal cuts to the heart and viewing the functionality of valves and cardiac walls. Additionally, it could be enhanced in such a manner so as to improve assessments of the hypokinesia (diminished activity) and akinesia (loss/absence of activity) concepts of myocardial infarctions.
INSIGHT is a good app with very good intentions. Visually it delivers a stunning experience that can help one’s understanding of the cardiac cycle and general cardiac anatomy. But think of the possibilities with EKG and auscultation integration to the app and adding additional cardiac pathologies and datasets, such as congenital heart diseases, like tetralogy of Fallot, interauricular and interventricular communication, Eisenmenger syndrome, and transposition of great vessels, among others that sometimes are not so easy to diagnose.
From a ‘this is cool’ point of view, the INSIGHT Heart app is a great app. However, from a medical viewpoint, we think it’s more of a tech demo of what can be visually achieved. The applications of this app in the medical profession are limited, perhaps to med students just starting their study of general cardiology. ARinMed would love to see the folks at ANIMA RES update the INSIGHT Heart app to include some additional functionalities. If they do, then INSIGHT Heart becomes more than an intriguing novelty, it becomes a mind-blowing tool for internal medicine, cardiology residents and even medical training in general!