Some of the world’s greatest technological advancements of the 21st century have not only altered the way that we live our lives but have also affected our healthcare approach. From wearable technology to CT scans, technology fuels medical education, training, and patient-driven solutions.
Now we can add the very new and exciting concept of Augmented and Virtual Reality to the list (AR/VR).
As a part of the global market forecasted to reach a value of over $5 billion by 2025, augmented reality and virtual reality in healthcare has expectations to transform the medical sector. From medical practitioner training and education to real-time assistance and data during complex surgical procedures to supporting administration and aftercare, we have only just begun to scratch the surface of AR/VR benefits to our well-being.
These expectations are not without basis. In fact, AR/VR technology is already being used to create a more effective and efficient healthcare process, enhance the quality of patient care and support physicians in daily practices and advanced training.
Let’s take a look at how AR/VR technology is being used in healthcare advancement today.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented and virtual reality is a technology that adds value to the real world by displaying and overlying real-time media and digital information through smart technology and wearable tech.
You’ve likely witnessed an augmented or virtual reality experience in the form of life-like video games and immersive entertainment. Today AR/VR technology is even being used for detailed 3-D modeling and browsers that add contextual information to the world around you.
Medical practices are finding ways to leverage these advancements to add data of immeasurable value to their day-to-day treatment, while strides are being made to create connected glasses and lenses to create a seamless experience.
How does Augmented Reality Benefit Doctors?
Healthcare expertise comes from years of experience. What better way to prepare our next generation of healthcare professionals than up-close, detailed 3-D models of the human body?
The application of augmented and virtual reality in healthcare is two-fold for doctors, allowing students to lift their heads from their textbooks and visualize the health complications they will actually be treating. Now doctorate students can explore and move models just as they would real cadavers, reaching into the digital body, and studying comprehensive x-ray access to nerves and muscles.
It doesn’t stop with advanced education and training. AR/VR technology is expected to monumentally assist doctors with their ability to treat and diagnose conditions through real-time access to patient information and data. This means immediate access to a wealth of knowledge, lending to faster-than-ever patient diagnosis and treatment.
How does Augmented Reality Benefit Patients?
Augmented and virtual reality has already proven to significantly improve the treatment quality patients receive from their healthcare provider. To begin with, procedures such as minimally invasive surgery risk factors can be greatly reduced by keeping the most relevant and important information readily available for a surgeon and technician access.
Previously, information such as images and vital statistics were delivered by an endoscopic camera and displayed on monitors throughout the operating room. Thanks to advancements in medical augmented reality, smart glasses can help the surgeon focus on the task at hand, reducing the need for unnecessary multi-tasking and distractions.
Besides minimizing the possibility of mistakes, augmented and virtual reality is highly effective when it comes to patient education, treatment, and prevention. AR/VR applications can be used to illustrate the impact of certain conditions and transmitting information more effectively. This type of multi-sensory experience can also be used to educate caregivers or family members for better treatment paths and contribution to care for their loved ones than ever before.
Additionally, unpleasant and even painful procedures such as taking a blood sample have become even more straightforward thanks to virtual reality and augmented tech. The popular and already used device AccuVein is a type of handheld scanner that reveals veins underneath the patient’s skin, assisting with more targeted placement of needles.
As if all of these advancements weren’t impressive enough on their own, AR/VR technology can also aid in patient aftercare. When a patient leaves the hospital, it may be up to them to manage specific treatments or monitor a health issue. This can be especially challenging for elderly patients who need to keep track of their treatment schedule. Certain advancements on the market also act as a gentle reminder for patients to perform certain treatment activities or take their medication as required.
Augmented and virtual reality can also help hospital administration staff to access information and manages records quickly and efficiently, reducing overhead and removing the possibility of human errors.
The Future of Augmented Reality in Medicine
The use of augmented reality and virtual reality tech in live streaming of surgeries for education, coupled with patient pain management and monitoring services foster a market opportunity predicted to drive the segment significantly.
These technologies have not only disrupted but revolutionized our approach in the medical field, serving the need to provide an innovative healthcare experience. The demand for better delivery of care services coupled with the increasing focus on the need to streamline medical operations is driving the growing adoption of these technologies.
Despite the sustained excitement surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality technology, large-scale adoption of multi-sensory experiences in healthcare requires a plethora of documented research. When it comes to augmented reality, there is a lot of theoretical value. Clinical studies are required to demonstrate not just the clinical, but overall economic value towards healthcare providers.
Current AR/VR technology is over 20 years in the making. It takes a myriad of awareness and education, paired with continuous advancements in medicine and science to encourage augmented reality and virtual reality acceptance.
However, as more and more researched and advancements in augmented reality and virtual reality come forth, these type of tech advancements are expected to proliferate all area of education and training, patient care, and the medicinal sector. Whether augmented reality is used for patient engagement or advanced practitioner education, the healthcare industry can and will be revolutionized in the years to come.