Augmented Reality in Healthcare: Benefits and Future

Augmented reality technology offers vast opportunities for a variety of industries. The healthcare sector is not an exception. Addressed to simulate medical diseases, visualize surgeries and provide education for patients and doctors,  AR technology is here to stay. Not only does it help to simplify complex surgical procedures, but also it increases surgery success rates. Having that in mind, companies of all sizes are focusing on AR-powered solutions that do help them in communicating, educating, and balancing interactions between patients and clinicians. What’s more, they drastically improve patient care and health treatment outcomes.

Simulations of surgical procedures, diagnostic magnetic-resonance imaging, patient care solutions, and rehabilitation services are key applications that AR drives in the healthcare sector. Furthermore, the market of AR-powered solutions is expected to reach up to 3.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2024. This means that higher adoption of augmented reality technology helps to close the gap in the relationship between patients and healthcare providers and opens up plenty of opportunities for doctors in making better decisions about treatment. Realizing the great value of AR technology in the healthcare sector, we have decided to highlight the benefits  AR brings in healthcare you should know about. Let’s keep reading!

What’s exactly Augmented Reality technology in healthcare?

Being very similar to visual technology, AR adds layers of digital information onto the physical world enabling doctors/patients to view the real world through a variety of digital devices – screens, handheld devices, glasses, head-mounted displays, mobile phones on a real-time basis. Not only do AR-powered solutions reshape the way doctors establish a diagnosis and treat healthcare consumers, but also they make it possible to improve the way healthcare professionals are trained and educated.

Augmented Reality in healthcare: Major Benefits

Presenting a great array of unique opportunities for both healthcare providers and healthcare consumers, augmented reality brings mutual benefits and drives growth in the healthcare industry. Whether it’s a group of medical students who practice surgical techniques or doctors who observe and treat patients, AR comes into play. Sounds impressive, right? Let’s dive into the details below!

Better doctor-patient communication with Augmented Reality

A recent survey discovered that patients want to get better consultations from doctors that are based on factual information while others expect that healthcare providers should apply innovative solutions to deliver a more unique experience for healthcare consumers. To sum up, patients are looking for factual data and greater use of innovative technologies that AR-powered tools can provide.

Such AR-powered software can go up relationships between healthcare consumers and healthcare providers to the new levels. Not only will these innovations present opportunities to better diagnose and speed up patient engagement, but also they offer a more personalized approach for their treatment. Moreover, it’s a great way for healthcare consumers to better understand information about their conditions, treatments or upcoming procedures.

AR navigation

AR can be used as a way of everyday navigation across the globe. As for the healthcare sector, healthcare providers can apply AR-fueled solutions to help nurses/patients/doctors to quickly find the right way or a room in the hospital. In addition to that, it’s a great solution in emergencies. Also, if successfully combined with a hearing aid, an AR-based app opens up unique opportunities for blind patients. By sending voice messages, they can navigate within the hospital easier.

Remote collaboration with AR app

AR technology can be used as a unique way for virtual collaboration. Not only can it help in observing and assisting doctors in collaborative surgery procedures, but also the doctors who are located in different places can attend meetings or any medical conferences in one click. What’s more, AR-powered solutions enable clinicians to connect and interact with each other anywhere in the world. For example, a fledgling surgeon can be assisted by the primary surgeon during operation by giving instructions.

Describing health issues in a more sophisticated way

It’s not a secret that health consumers often have difficulties when precisely describing and explaining their medical symptoms. What’s more, they often may react angrily or frightenedly to a medical situation. Here is where AR technology can help to simplify the mentioned above process. For example, the EyeDecide app is designed specifically to utilize the camera that allows doctors to view the eyeball literally from any angle and simulate how specific conditions impact eye health and vision. In addition to that, this app provides a rare opportunity to display in reality age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts affecting human eyes. With that AR-powered solution, not only can healthcare consumers see the actual medical state or medical issues in reality, but they become more motivated to make positive changes in their eye health.

Vein detection and visualization with AR

Getting blood tests provides information about what’s going on inside the patient’s body. However, some people may even faint during this procedure. As for children, it can be quite traumatizing to experience the horrors if a nurse/doctor can’t find a vein easily. Unfortunately, sometimes patients have small blood vessels or heavily pigmented skin that leads to difficulties in locating the veins. Having that in mind, a variety of companies started to apply AR technology to address this problem.

For example, AccuVein uses an AR-powered handheld scanner that helps nurses/doctors to easily find vein vessels in the patients’ bodies. Not only can this solution reduce the number of failed attempts, but also it verifies that intravenous injection (IV) inserted operates correctly without unnecessary discomfort. Moreover, with vein visualization tools healthcare providers can easily detect veins that couldn’t be seen or felt.

Scanning the body with AR-powered applications

Such tools like CT scans, X-rays and MRIs are excellent ways to take images of the inside of the human body. They open up rare opportunities to look at the “picture” of the bones, muscles, nerves, organs, and so on. Using AR-fueled solutions for taking medical images is very crucial and wonderful as well. Not only do they help doctors to detect any abnormalities in the patient’s body, but also healthcare providers make “picture”-driven treatment decisions. For example, Karger’s AR-fueled system applies magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography scanning (CT scans) to create a 3D image of the inside of a patient’s body where different organs are automatically color-coded.

Moreover, the surgeon can use the Microsoft HoloLens headset to display the  3D organs and tap on them or remove if there is a need to take a look more closely at a certain organ/organs. Additionally, 3D “pictures” can be used in pharmaceutics to detect unique, negative drug side effects, while radiologists can apply AR-powered solutions to get a 360-degree image of a patient’s limb. To sum up, all these solutions provide healthcare specialists with a rare way of displaying what is happening inside the patients’ bodies and make a decision on how to improve it based on accurate visual data.

Better treatment of life-threatening illnesses

Training is getting more interactive and riskless with the benefit of AR-based solutions. Not only does AR help trainee physicians and medical students to practice the theoretical knowledge and get real experience, but also they can see what is going on inside patients’ bodies, how the systems work in real time, how blood enters the heart through two large veins,  and how joints move.

Innovative AR-fueled software is an excellent solution for health providers that provides unique opportunities in explaining to healthcare consumers what is happening inside their bodies and how they can “fix” it. In addition to that, surgeons can visualize bones, muscles, and internal organs, etc. without cutting a body to see and explain what may happen during an operation or procedure. What’s more, patients can see and understand what goes wrong with their health. More importantly, doctors can see all life-saving information during an operation that helps them to perform more accurate and riskless surgery procedures.

Assess vision needs with AR technology

It’s a truth that the eyes contain a variety of the smallest blood vessels, and doctors have no chances to detect them manually. With augmented reality technology, it’s not a problem anymore. Not only can optometrists clearly look at the patients’ eyes to study them, but also they will establish a better diagnosis. What’s more, optometrist specialists can accurately explain what medical issues detected and how they can be treated by using AR-powered solutions. As for patients, for instance, AR-powered software allows them to try a pair of glasses and make a choice before purchasing.

AR technology helps to spot signs of dental medical issues

In today’s digital world, dentists can seize opportunities addressed by AR  to prevent dental problems and enhance dental health. As you may know, many dentists are already equipped with 3D digital scans that help them to identify medical problems or issues in the patient’s mouth. Equipped with AR-powered glasses, dentists can identify an infection fast or easily define the depth of the cavity in the tooth that needs to be fixed with a filling.

Additionally, AR-based tools can be utilized by dental surgeons in creating crowns or implants. It is similar to prosthetic limbs of any complexity and size developed by doctors. Not only does this solution allow patients to understand if the dental piece is comfortable for them, but also it can be effective for training dental students or/and assistants. What’s more, by applying AR-powered software can instructors design 3D virtual models, and can students experience and examine a variety of dental issues.

Exclusive breastfeeding

In the early days, breastfeeding can be challenging. Some women may face many different problems while breastfeeding, while others do not. Being the hottest device, Google Glass is here to help new mothers. By focusing on step-by-step visual tutorials, this device coaches and teaches them how to breastfeed a baby. What’s more, it allows them to video call healthcare providers and to get the help of lactation consultants without a need to put down the baby from their arms. That solution is getting consultations about lactation to a new level.

Identify nearby defibrillators

Providing first aid to a distressed person collapsing suddenly is not a problem anymore. With AR,  you can find where the nearest Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are located and help a person suffered a cardiac arrest in a public place to survive. If used within 2-5 minutes, the survival chances can increase by up to 74%. Powered with AR, mobile applications speed up the process of dealing with health challenges fast. For example, specifically combined with the AED4EU geo layer, the Layar –  augmented reality browser platform – helps people to find defibrillators that are currently available near them.

Augmented reality in healthcare: Are you already equipped with AR-powered solutions?

In today’s digital world, the healthcare sector is significantly disrupted with augmented reality innovative technology. Not only can clinicians improve their ability to diagnose and provide better treatment with AR-based innovative solutions, but also they perform procedures more accurately. In addition to that, AR-fueled solutions give healthcare providers access to real-time, precise patients’ data that significantly increases treatment outcomes. Moreover, AR-powered solutions put a high value on delivering and practicing medicine, providing education that allow medical students, trainee physicians to experience health scenarios by visualizing them. As you may see, AR’s benefits for the healthcare landscape are groundbreaking, and it’s just the beginning of what is to expect from AR.

 

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