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Using a digital tool (photospheres) for remote home assessments.

To improve the efficiency, reliability and richness of the home assessment process using photospheres, 360° panoramic photos with interactive annotations, that can be captured quickly and easily with low-cost equipment.

  • Proposal
  • 2022

Meet the team


  • David Western
  • Alice Hortop
  • Michael Loizou
  • Ben Hicks

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to the theme?

Knowledge of the home environment is fundamental for many patient hospital discharges to inform assessment, referral, planning and intervention. Home visits by healthcare professionals are set to increase both for reasons of an ageing population and the well documented benefits of being at home.  Hence, there is an urgent need to efficiently maximise the value of each visit.

Documenting these visits can be time-consuming and important details can be difficult to convey intuitively. We propose that modern scene-capture technologies, such as 360-panoramic photos (photospheres), can be used as a new form of digital asset to allow details about the home to be captured and shared more efficiently. Preliminary focus groups with occupational therapists (OTs), discharge liaison, and community teams, have shown overwhelmingly positive support.

The research collaboration includes members with expertise in OT, health technology, digital health transformation, product development and design management, co-development, qualitative methodologies and community-based research.

What does your project aim to achieve?

Aim: To evaluate the practical, organisational, economic and technical feasibility of 3D building capture technologies for home assessments.

We will work with OTs (an exemplar of the wider challenge, one that requires in-depth patient interaction) to investigate how photospheres can enable digitisation of some/ all of the service to bring about a step-change in capability while maintaining quality and patient experience and contributing to Net Zero.


  • Engage relevant stakeholders
  • Use the current prototype to explore circumstances identified by stakeholders eg:
    • wheelchair user
    • post stroke
    • those with dementia (needs change often).
  • Ask them to use (capture / edit / view) the photospheres
  • Gain in-depth feedback from shadowing visits to identify barriers and facilitators
  • Refine prototype
  • Real-life walk-through using prototype.

Baseline photosphere may mean additional home visits are unnecessary but intervention(s) for those with needs that might change over time and/or who live remotely can still be delivered.

How will the project be delivered?

WP1: Key stakeholder engagement: OTs, discharge liaison, community teams.

WP2: Gain in-depth feedback through researcher shadowing home visits; identification of risks, barriers and enablers.

WP3: Technical analysis and prototype refinement (minimal viable prototype).

WP4:  Real life walk-through using prototype.

WP5: Dissemination and next steps to realise impact.

WP6: Follow-up funding with selected partners (including infrastructure partners), including a cost-benefit assessment, to build up to field trials of a prototype system.

While Proof of Concept has been created that demonstrated the potential value and efficiencies of photospheres for remote assessment, realities of using such a low-cost tool in practice has yet to be researched. We will consider full/partial digitalisation of workflow.

Dissemination and impact will be achieved through trade show attendance e.g. Naidex and The OT Show, social media e.g. homemods4OT Facebook group, interaction with clinicians e.g., through Royal College of OT specialist sections, local commissioning groups and the AHSN.

How is your project going to share learning?

Our preliminary work with focus groups revealed that a variety of useful but imperfect approaches to digitally capturing/visualising the home are already used by professionals, with substantial variety between centres. Our early technical analysis revealed several low-cost solutions to expand these capabilities. The above interactions will allow cross-pollination of these findings to potential beneficiaries. We will assess the scope for involving institutional and/or commercial partners, e.g., community healthcare provider, local authority, technological company; this would help engender learning more widely.

The photosphere could form part of the OT process: referral information info requested to enable diff types of OT services, pre-discharge & enhanced risk assessment, shared with companies/ services to plan coordinated interventions, record the intervention for accurate documentation, be part of the outcome measurement and could be clinically audited against set standards. We would like to explore the practicalities and barriers to the integration of photospheres into electronic patient records.

How you can contribute

  • Expertise from past experience of similar projects
  • Additional ideas about measurement.
  • Expertise from those involved in electronic patient records.
  • Ideas of potential other uses.

Plan timeline

3 Jul 2022 Project start

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