How AR and VR are Reshaping the Future in Healthcare?

AR and VR are reshaping the future in healthcare, offering more effective solutions for preventive healthcare, alongside a huge role in training and education

The healthcare industry gives visionary ideas, channelling exponential growth to make the greatest-ever contribution to humanity’s welfare. From 2018 to 2025, the global AR and VR in healthcare industry is expected to grow at a faster pace. Therefore, AR and VR will clearly reshape the healthcare industry in the coming years.

The advent of AR and VR technologies such as Magic Leap and Microsoft HoloLens has opened the doors to new opportunities in the healthcare industry. These immersive visual technologies, which combine virtual and real environments, are known as Extended Reality (XR) technology. Virtual Reality enables users to immerse in an entirely virtual environment, whereas Augmented Reality is when a virtual environment or objects are superimposed on a real-world environment to enhance contextual meaning. AR/VR implementation in healthcare is expected to be a permanent and disruptive force in the future, enhancing both patient and practitioner safety while fueling innovation.

Here are some of the ways XR technologies, that is AR and VR will reshape the future healthcare industry:

1. Training and facilitation of medical learning

XR technology has the potential to significantly improve the quality of learning and training for medical professionals while also lowering costs and improving retention.

2. Training for Skill development

Another aspect of medical training is purely physical, such as inserting a catheter, drawing blood, and performing surgeries. While traditional methods entail learning from textbooks, slide shows, and watching a professional perform these tasks, AR and VR technologies allow students to learn these behavioural skills in a virtual or mixed reality environment by actually performing them. Medical students not only improve the quality of their learning by performing these skills in an immersive environment, but they also learn to do so with a much higher degree of accuracy and precision.

3. Body mapping or Virtual assistance

There are numerous examples of AR/VR technology in healthcare that improve medical training for students prior to actual surgeries and allow doctors to practise complex procedures on a virtual human body. By synchronising and connecting multiple sensors, AR-based apps can assist doctors in creating simulations of patient bodies to work with complex scenarios or compensate for the absence or scarcity of doctors. It also opens up numerous opportunities for practitioners to use available information and AR-based hardware to perform complex medical tests.

4. Augmented surgery or Realistic 3D visualisation

AR-based apps can improve patient safety during surgery by providing surgeons with real-time data on the patient’s vitals, procedure details, equipment locations, and other pertinent information. AR-based virtual interfaces enable doctors to visualise the locations of patients’ organs as well as diseases, tumours, or other abnormalities. This, in turn, expedites procedures while maintaining patient safety and improving the doctor’s cognitive conscience. During a TAVI heart procedure, for example, surgeons require a large amount of data and real-time information from sensors such as instant X-rays and 3D U/S scans. AR-based apps can provide them with quick access to such vital data sets.

5. Simulating practical medical training

AR and other XR technologies can be used to provide interactive and immersive education to patients who are fearful or sceptical. Doctors and healthcare professionals can use VR and AR not only to train tech interns but also to educate patients during consultation sessions. This will also allow doctors to instil confidence and trust in their patients, allowing them to make more informed decisions.

6. Education and Improved care for patients

Not only medical professionals but also patients can benefit from AR and VR technologies in terms of understanding medical conditions and details about treatment and a variety of procedures.

7. Accurate risk and disease diagnosis

AR-based applications can assist doctors in detecting, avoiding, and treating a variety of diseases with a better prognosis. It can visualise information collected from various sensors into a unified interface to determine specific causes of a patient’s condition. It can also allow doctors to monitor veins, lesions, organs, and other structures without invasive procedures. EyeDecide is one such medical app that simulates the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision using the camera display.

8. Capabilities of Telemedicine

Telemedicine has become increasingly important as more patients rely on virtual visits, and virtual reality has taken this method to the next level. VR in healthcare allows doctors to perform sensory tests on patients who have motor impairments, such as muscle weakness in stroke patients. Companies are incorporating virtual reality into telemedicine, with XRHealth serving as a prime example. To get patients to perform movements that target specific areas of the body, the company combines a VR headset and entertaining games.

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