7 Applications of Augmented Reality in Healthcare
7 Applications of Augmented Reality in Healthcare
No longer just a storyline in the sci-fi genre, augmented reality has become a part of our everyday lives to improve our private and professional lives. Through wearable technology in healthcare and other digital solutions, surgeons, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals can deliver improved healthcare to their patients. So, how does it work?
What Is Augmented Reality in Healthcare?
A close cousin of virtual reality in healthcare augmented reality doesn’t detach the person from the real world. That means virtual reality covers the senses, most notably the eyes, detaching the individual from the real world and immersing them in a simulated one. Augmented reality enhances it: the users experience digital reality overlapping with the real world, giving medical professionals, for example, improved methods of locating veins or improving surgeons’ perceptions of harmful body tissue.
Healthcare augmented reality functions by equipping wearable medical technology that brings digital objects into the real world. An example can be made of a surgical AR headset: a surgeon wears a medical device that allows them to project X-ray scans onto the body, seeing the two at the same time. It improves precision and accuracy: AR tools allow for 98% accuracy, which means it is at least as good as every other available tool.
Applications of AR in Healthcare
The fact that the users of AR technologies aren’t immersed in a virtual environment makes it much more applicable to industries like healthcare. Below is a non-exhaustive list of AR applications:
- Robotic-Assisted Surgery
Robotic-assisted surgery coupled with AR gives users an enhanced interface. Surgeons using this technology have better perceptual awareness and enhanced senses, giving them better operating and decision-making capabilities. Moreover, this improved type of reality helps new surgeons and medical professionals learn by giving them realistic visuals of human anatomy. Healthcare AR also increases the security measures in place. Through this technology, surgeons can better spot possible points of risk that could jeopardize the surgery and then take necessary precautions to prevent disaster.
- Medical Training
As we briefly touched upon this benefit, AR has numerous applications when it comes to medical training. New generations of medical professionals will now have the ability to utilize this technology in their learning: the overlapping augmented models will give them a more realistic picture of the human body.AR healthcare can also make its way into schools, as it is apparent just how valuable this technology is. Textbooks and curriculums can be made more technologically friendly: not just through the learning of the human body but also by helping future generations learn about drugs and drug effects. By displaying this information augmented, medical professionals can see the 3D models with reactions and animations that help them evolve.
- Drug Discovery
Digital tools are already transforming how drugs are made. With healthcare augmented reality, we take this a step further. We rely on artificial intelligence to design new medicines by inputting large amounts of data samples from which the algorithm can learn. From there, it decides what specific molecular combinations will work to combat a particular disease.Augmented reality changes this, especially for collaborative drug development. Medical chemists already use 3D rendering software to design and develop a new drug and see how those molecules fit together. However, with AR in healthcare, they could stand around the room rotating 3D models in real life. That would make the whole process much more manageable, making those meetings more fun.
- Reduction of Diagnostic Error
Many clinical decision support systems already help doctors reduce medical errors. They can function like alerts sent to the doctor’s portal upon potential diagnostic error: should the doctor input the wrong medication for a patient, the warning would pop up and prevent them from doing so.However, AR for healthcare helps patients with the description of their disease. Often, patients do not relay an accurate picture of their condition, either over or underselling it. This technology would allow doctors to see the patient’s body and thus their actual state, reducing the potential for misdiagnosis and potentially worse outcomes.
- Physical Therapy
Introducing this technology in physical therapy makes patients more engaged, and increased patient engagement has been linked with improved patient outcomes. The input that the physician can generate from each session and how they implement healthcare AR findings and results can make the entire therapy faster and more efficient.
This technology also allows physicians to offer therapy virtually in an interactive environment. It can serve as cognitive and motor therapy and help patients recover in multiple ways.
- Hospital Navigation
Hospitals can be pretty complex: with multiple floors and buildings, they can be hard to navigate, especially for visitors and newcomers. Instead of hopelessly and frantically running through hallways and seeking directions, a better option presents itself in AR healthcare.Just as Pokemon Go allowed us to catch Pikachu in Central Park, AR can present itself as an arrow on your phone screen. Equipping and using AR software on your phone will enable you to get actual directions that show precisely where you need to go, making hospital navigation less stressful and time-consuming.
- Vein Finding
Nurses often don’t insert the IV into the patient’s vein on the first try. Instead, it usually takes at least two attempts before the nurse can adequately attach the intravenous injection. This could be a thing of the past with healthcare augmented reality.Some companies are already developing a handheld scanner that scans the patient’s arm and tells nurses and doctors exactly where that patient’s veins are. This technology can help nurses and patients, but it will also improve the care practitioners’ ability to locate patients’ veins in the future.