Augmented Reality for Healthcare – Five Ways It’s Transforming the Industry
As technology continues to advance, the world is embracing the benefits of augmented reality for healthcare. And that’s not just an opinion. The VR/AR healthcare market size reached almost 2.93 billion USD in 2022 and is expected to grow to almost 12 billion in five years (source: Market Data Forecast)!
AR is transforming the way healthcare professionals work and is proving to be a game-changer in the industry. With its ability to overlay digital information onto the real world, it’s helping to improve patient outcomes and medical training while also increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
In this article, we’ll explore four ways that augmented reality is transforming the healthcare industry and why it’s becoming an essential tool for healthcare professionals around the globe. Get ready to see healthcare in a whole new light!
Types of augmented reality for healthcare
Augmented reality has enormous potential, offering healthcare professionals and patients a variety of applications, including patient education, surgical planning, and medical training. Depending on the purpose of an application, different devices can be used: smartphones, PC tablets, smart glasses or dedicated headsets.
Smartphone or tablet-based AR
The most common type of augmented reality in healthcare is using a smartphone or tablet to show extra information on top of an object in real time. For example, a patient can use this technology to see their organs and bones to better understand their medical conditions. Doctors can also use it to access medical records and visualize complex procedures.
AR glasses and MR headsets
AR glasses and mixed reality (MR) headsets, such as the Microsoft HoloLens or Meta Quest 2 Pro, provide a fully immersive experience. Medical professionals can use this technology to simulate surgical procedures, train medical students, and visualize patient data in real time.
The main difference between AR glasses and MR headsets is that augmented reality glasses only display virtual objects, while mixed reality headsets allow users to interact with virtual objects. MR headsets can track hand movements and gestures, allowing users to manipulate virtual objects as if they were real. This makes them ideal for surgical planning and medical training.
Benefits of using AR in healthcare
Educating future healthcare professionals
One of the most significant benefits of augmented reality for healthcare is its ability to improve medical training. AR technology allows medical students to use virtual models of the human body that can be taken apart and interacted with. The immersive learning experiences enable improved student engagement and knowledge retention.
Additionally, augmented reality can facilitate learning by providing interactive 3D visualizations of data and concepts. Then there is mixed reality, which enables students to practice complex surgical procedures in a safe and controlled environment, reducing the risk of mistakes during actual surgeries.
One example of an MR headset used in medicine is the HoloLens 2 device developed by Microsoft. It can provide medical students with simulations of many medical procedures, allowing them to practice and improve their skills before performing them on a patient. Check out the video below to find out more.
Improving patient experience
Augmented reality for healthcare is also transforming patient care by enhancing the patient experience and improving treatment outcomes. For example, the technology can be used to give people a virtual tour of a hospital or clinic before their visit, reducing their anxiety and improving their overall experience.
An AR app could also provide patients with personalized treatment plans, including real-time information about their medical conditions and treatment options. Instead of simply presenting information through text or images, the AR app could use 3D models or animations to show patients how their treatment plan works and how it will affect their bodies.
As an example, check out this diabetes AR app we developed for one of our clients. By leveraging augmented reality technology, the software scans the barcodes of items available in the store. The system then identifies the specific product and retrieves its nutritional information, allowing the user to determine whether it’ll be beneficial or harmful to their health.
Augmented reality for healthcare is a useful tool when it comes to stroke rehabilitation. How? It provides a fun way to engage in rehabilitation exercises, remind patients about the exercises they need to complete as well as track progress and even send feedback directly to their doctor.
Augmented reality cubes are also an interesting tool for helping patients after a stroke. We’ve actually developed an app that involved VR and an AR cube for rehabilitation. It was a research project for doctor Andrzej Chmiel – head of the innovative Pracownia Psychologii i Coachingu VR (a Polish VR psychology and coaching institution).
Augmented reality apps may also facilitate remote consultations between healthcare providers and patients in the future. Using a smartphone, patients could transmit a live image of a sore leg, for example. With AR, they could draw and place virtual objects on the image and better explain their concerns to the doctor.For reference, check the video below. It shows an AR remote support application we developed for one of our clients. The same principle could be applied to software designed for innovative telemedicine.
Additionally, augmented reality for healthcare can be used to educate patients about their conditions and treatments. Interactive 3D models may help people visualize their conditions and see how treatments will affect their bodies, providing a more engaging and informative experience.
Helping doctors and nurses in their work
AR glasses can be used by nurses to locate veins more easily by superimposing a digital image of the veins onto the patient’s skin. This technology can improve the accuracy and speed of vein location, making it easier for nurses to perform tasks such as inserting intravenous (IV) lines, drawing blood, and administering medications.
On the other hand, doctors can now wear these glasses during surgery to receive real-time patient data like blood pressure and heart rate, as well as notifications, without having to take their eyes off the patient. It’s a huge advantage because they can compile all the information they need without interrupting the surgical process.
AR glasses also have the potential to enhance patient outcomes. Doctors can use the glasses to get an augmented view of the surgical site, making it easier for them to identify critical structures and make more precise incisions. This can lead to faster recovery times and reduce the risk of complications.
Let’s sum up!
In conclusion, the benefits of augmented reality for healthcare are significant. AR can improve medical training and facilitate learning by providing interactive 3D visualizations. It can also provide students with simulations of medical procedures, allowing them to practice and improve their skills before performing them on a patient.
What’s more, augmented reality for healthcare is transforming patient care by enhancing the patient experience and improving treatment outcomes. It can be used to provide personalized treatment plans, remind patients about their rehabilitation exercises and track progress.
As augmented reality for healthcare continues to advance, it will undoubtedly continue to transform the healthcare industry and improve patient care if you’re looking for a trusted partner to develop augmented or virtual reality solutions, leave us a message! We’ll schedule a free 60-minute consultation with one of our experts and discuss how immersive software can help your organization.