Holograms of accurate human skeletons, layered with muscle and organs, veins and vessels are among technological breakthroughs tipped to revolutionise health care.
Health and technology experts will meet in Rotorua this week to diuscuss the latest trends - including the holograms, which are already being used overseas instead of cadavers to train medical students, and by surgeons to plan operations.
Speakers at the 2017 Health Informatics New Zealand Conference - the country's largest digital health event - include Microsoft chief medical officer Dr Simon Kos, who told the Herald on Sunday New Zealanders could benefit from the cutting-edge technology on medical wards in the years to come. There was a chance some patients might no longer have to see GPs when seeking advice over some ailments.
Recent advances from Microsoft included the developing of "Hololens" virtual reality technology - featuring holograms - which was being used to teach students at Case Western Reserve University in America in the place of cadavers.
Surgeons were also using the technology to improve planning for complex surgeries. In Norway specialists were using holograms to plan liver surgery and paediatric cardiac surgeries.
"It can take a scan of a particular patient's heart, not a generic heart, and they are building it holographically in full fidelity," Kos said.
"They know when they get in that they want to cut here or miss this structure.
"Now we can render in three dimensions, which is blowing everyone away from medical students in their learning and doctors who are using it pre-operatively."
Kos said the technology - which he believed would eventually be introduced in New Zealand - was moving so quickly that 3D printing, which was only introduced about five years ago, was already being replaced by holograms.
The hologram scans meant fewer surprises for surgeons, quicker recovery time and better outcomes for patients and lower costs through planning.
Nurses were also using Hololens during home visits so they could access patient notes and treat the patient at the same time. They could then put the headset on the patient so, if required, they could have a discussion with a virtual doctor.
The technology was especially beneficial for patients who were geographically isolated or immobile.
New computer technology used artificial intelligence to analyse patient data and pinpoint the best time to discharge a patient to reduce hospital readmission.
Kos wanted to see technology work so healthcare moved from a system that treated people when they became sick to one that prevented illness.
He said there was still a gap between the technology that was available and what was being used.
"We need to know how we can best introduce these technologies without compromising our quality of care."