Augmented reality (AR) is not limited to the gaming arena. Technology is creating gigantic waves in the patient experience. Yes, you heard, right! AR in Healthcare has created a future of limitless possibilities.
The world of AR with goofy-looking headgear and sci-fi detours is ready to transform patient medical experiences. The next generation will make more distinguished advances, and we can expect more meaningful AR journeys.
As a healthcare organization, you’d want to know everything about the thriving technology. We got you.
In this blog, we will be looking at some of the most significant AR use cases in healthcare. Let’s dive in!
Advancements in Augmented Reality — Critical Insights
Before we look at some of the promising insights of augmented reality in the medical field, here are some crucial facts:
- According to Gartner, 5G mobile network technology represents an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of AR.
- Gartner conducted a 5G enterprise survey. The study highlights that AR/VR applications of 5G attract the highest expectations and are drivers of new revenue across all use cases and respondents.
- According to Forrester, by 2021, AR will be commonplace, while VR remains niche.
- According to Zion Market Research, the Global Healthcare AR/VR market will reach USD 5,115 Million By 2025. The estimate will be at a CAGR of around 29.2% between 2019 and 2025.
- Another critical insight that experts highlight the AR market would grow into an 18 billion USD valuation by 2023.
What Is Augmented Reality and How Does It Work
Let’s start with the augmented reality definition. Augmented reality is a technology that adds a digital layer to the world around us and imposes virtual elements and experiences into our reality. To see and feel the enhanced reality, you need special hardware devices: either wearable or non-wearable.
These devices blend our real world with a virtual one, creating the illusion that all the objects you interact with are real. Here are some examples of common AR devices:
- Smart glasses
- Head-mounted displays
These devices differ by their level of immersion and the kind of control you get over them. To help learn more about the possibilities each device provides, we’ve cherry-picked our favorite ones in different categories:
- Head-mounted – Microsoft HoloLens 2
- Smart glasses – Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2
- Smartphone – Apple’s latest iPhone 12
From providing more detailed drug information with augmented reality demos to assisting surgeons during surgery with x-ray views – AR is already revolutionizing healthcare.
Opportunities for Augmented Reality in Healthcare
The new applications for AR in the healthcare sector can enhance patient care. How?
First, AR can help doctors diagnose and treat patients accurately. With access to real-time patient data, they can perform functions better than before.
The novel ways of AR in the healthcare industry are groundbreaking. Let’s check out some of the new opportunities.
1. Augmented Surgery
Imagine the power of AR — surgeons visualize the bones and internal organs of patients without having to cut open a body. Now, that’s great, isn’t it?
Surgeons can get access to real-time, life-saving patient information. They can now use this data during complicated or straightforward procedures.
Surgeons can use AR to study their patients’ anatomy. They can enter their MRI data, and CT scans into an AR headset. Then, overlay specific patient anatomy on top of their body before going into surgery.
The process will help surgeons to visualize muscles, bones, and internal organs. You’re right without cutting open a body! With AR, surgeons can perform accurate and low-risk surgeries, saving time.
Scenario: Surgeons and doctors at hospitals like Imperial College and St. Mary’s Hospital in London have begun using Microsoft’s HoloLens AR glasses during reconstructive surgery on patients who have suffered severe injuries.
2. Augmented Diagnosis
You must have observed that some patients find it challenging to describe their symptoms to doctors accurately. Now, with AR, patients will be able to express their symptoms better. The process will make it easier for doctors to determine their patients’ symptoms and accurately diagnose them.
Scenario: Imagine a patient coming to a doctor for a necessary shot. The nurse can now use AR to find veins easily. How? Using AccuVein, an AR startup that uses a handheld scanner, nurses can determine where the veins are.
3. Augmented Practice
What happens when medical students make mistakes in a real-life procedure? You’re right! It would be disastrous. However, learning in the dissection lab and real-life methods is essential. Now, that’s where AR can be revolutionary in the field of medicine and education.
Medical institutions are beginning to implement AR into their curriculum to provide students with valuable hands-on learning experiences. With AR in education, it would be easy to simulate patient and surgical encounters for students. AR technologies can allow medical students to visualize and practice theories during their training.
Scenario: Using AR apps, students can check out the overlay anatomy data on a 3D human skeleton. The visualization would help them to understand better how the human body works.
Practical Use Cases of AR in Healthcare
AR applications in healthcare aren’t limited to AR glasses. Today, Physicians are using AR very effectively during interventional procedures. Examples include Computerized Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) visualization paths.
You would also find AR used increasingly in medical education. So, the possibilities are limitless, fun, and exciting.
Let’s explore some significant real-life use cases of how AR apps are improving the patient medical experience.
1. Augmented Reality Showing Defibrillators Nearby and Saving Lives
Picture this — you have a relative next to you, who collapses suddenly. What would you do? Yes, after controlling the rush of emotions, you’d wish to reach out to someone. You may think of calling a doctor, an ambulance, or your friends for help.
Here’s an interesting option. You can consider downloading the Layar reality browser combined with Realwear Navigator 500 from RealTime AR to your phone next to the basic emergency numbers. If you get into a similar situation, then you would be able to help more. Learn more.
Lucien Engelen, who worked at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, created the AED4EU, which can add places where automated external defibrillators or AEDs are located. The great part — physicians can access the database through the new application.
You can also project the exact location of the nearest AEDs on the screen of your phone with the Layar browser. Next, it would take less than a few minutes to find them and also help the ones in need.
2. Virtual Collaboration Between Physicians With AR
What if the primary surgeon is miles away? AR can come to your rescue. If the primary surgeon is away, and a specialist on hand has possession of AR tools, then the professional can follow instructions and help.
Doctors can use AR with collaborative surgeries, and even have effective meetings on any medical issue with AR video conferencing. It could be a life-saving moment with specialists located far away from the clinic helping out.
3. Google Glass Can Help Guide New Mothers with Breastfeeding
Google Glass can help mothers struggling with breastfeeding get some expert help.
Melbourne-based innovation company, Small World, conducted a Google Glass trial with the Australian Breastfeeding Association. In the trial, telephone counselors could see through the eyes of mothers while they breastfed at home.
The insights could help struggling mothers get expert help throughout the day. The best part — the mothers didn’t have to put down their babies from their arms.
4. Augmented Reality in Surgery
Surgeries used to have a high mortality rate. Now, with AR, procedures can be much safer than before. AR can assist doctors and specialists, providing them with all the necessary information when trying to save patients’ lives.
As physicians operate, they can be more aware of organ location, meshes of the vein, and diagnosis reports, appearing right in front of their eyes.
The technology of Realwear Navigator can undoubtedly help to minimize risks. Moreover, it will help to reduce detailed surgical processes dramatically.
5. Augmented Reality can Help Patients to Describe Their Symptoms Better
An accurate diagnosis needs symptoms detailed accurately. You may have observed that patients quite often struggle with describing their symptoms. Such situations could lead to an erroneous diagnosis.
Let’s look at AR in Ophthalmology; the technology could help with patient education. EyeDecide, a medical app, uses the camera display for simulating the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision. With apps like EyeDecide, doctors can now show a simulation of the vision of a patient suffering from a specific condition.
So, patients can understand their symptoms and their actual medical state for scenarios, such as Cataracts or AMD. When patients comprehend the long-term effects of their lifestyle on their health, there is a greater possibility of them making positive changes.
6. AR Can Help Nurses Find Veins Easily
AccuVein, a start-up firm, is using AR, which is helping both nurses and patients. How? Most IVs (intravenous injections) typically miss the vein on the first stick. The situation worsens for children and the elderly.
Now, AccuVein uses augmented reality by using a handheld scanner that projects over the skin and shows nurses and physicians where veins are in the patients’ bodies. According to Vinny Luciano, AccuVein’s marketing specialist, technology has been used on more than 10 million patients. The AR app helps with finding a vein on the first stick 3.5x more likely.
7. Pharma Companies Can Offer Innovative Drug Information
Imagine studying some boring and indecipherable drug descriptions. It doesn’t sound exciting, isn’t it? Although it would have been fun to know how a drug works in your body. How can you explore the world of pills and also have fun? Augmented Reality is your answer.
Patients can now see how the drug works in 3D. How? With the help of AR, patients can explore how drugs work. Lab workers could also monitor their experiments with AR equipment.
8. Hololens Can Help With the Study of Anatomy
Wouldn’t it be nice to visualize the human body in an easy and explorative way? Now, that’s a reality! Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic have partnered with Microsoft and released a HoloLens app. The app is called HoloAnatomy, and it helps to visualize the human body in a simple-and-spectacular way.
The HoloLens Headset from Microsoft can help app users to see everything from muscles to the smallest veins on a dynamic holographic model. Such apps can revolutionize medical education shortly, as students would be able to visualize the human body in 3D. Get a Realwear Workband to ensure visualization in the best way possible.
9. Helping Kids Learn About the Human Body
The UK-based company, Curiscope, developed the Virtuali-tee T-shirt. The company is popular for creating immersive learning experiences. So, what about a T-shirt? Why would kids love it?
Here’s the thing — you can see the inner parts of the human body through realistic holograms. Virtual-tee brings anatomy to life, making it fun and exciting for kids to explore the human body.
As you can see, you already have plenty of examples of AR in healthcare. Augmented reality will continue to generate value for healthcare organizations and improve patient care. It’s up to you to discover new business processes and explore how AR can help you improve your systems.
Time to Plan Your Augmented Reality Journey
As a forward-thinking entrepreneur, you will need to take some critical steps to set up or integrate AR into your systems and processes.
You can brainstorm with your team to ensure a smooth transition by thinking about how and where to integrate your existing technologies with AR. You can also streamline the apps that you want to use and train and re-skill your employees properly.
A word of caution — with the use of AR, you will also need to plan steps to ensure the security of patient data. With wearables, there could be data privacy issues, and you would need to have a detailed plan on security.
Finally, get ready to explore the exciting world of augmented reality. Choose apps that can help you improve the patient medical experience and enjoy streamlining your healthcare processes.
The main concept of AR in any industry is to always study your customer and think ahead. Stay tuned to your market demands and surprise and entertain your customer before your competitors do the same.