Augmented reality has brought about a significant change in the healthcare industry. There are different applications of this technology in the medical sector. Right from providing assistance during surgeries to improving medical training, augmented reality is all set to make a bigger impact in the coming years. Apart from saving patients’ lives, existing processes in healthcare organizations can be made more efficient and precise with augmented reality. We will have a look at the numerous uses of this amazing technology in the healthcare industry.
Applications of Augmented Reality in Healthcare
- Patient Care Management & Education
With wearable devices like Google Glass, patient care management can be done effectively and easily. Details of patients who are admitted to the hospitals can be registered with Google Glass instead of manually entering the data into the system. This can reduce overheads, decrease the chances of human mistakes and make the care management process a smooth one.
With AR apps, patients can be educated about certain medical conditions that they are suffering from. For example, a patient suffering from a vision problem like cataract, can view his/her condition with the simulation of the patient’s vision.
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- Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM)
PBM is a part of the healthcare system and AR can make PBM more efficient. For example, by using an app installed in Google Glass, patients can be reminded to take their medications from time to time. Diet recommendation on the basis of the patient’s health condition can also be obtained from the app. Information on drug overdose and the related effects can also be provided by the app.
- Minimally Invasive Surgery
AR can play a very important role in reducing the risks associated with minimally invasive surgery. In this type of surgery, medical instruments are inserted through a tiny cut which is made in the patient’s skin. It might require endoscopic technology, where a camera is planted under the patient’s skin and images are displayed onto a monitor in the operation theater. If different screens are used to project the vital statistics of the patient, surgeons might find it difficult to concentrate fully on the surgery in hand. With AR, all the information is projected directly onto the task at hand, thereby reducing the risks.
- Complex Surgeries
Apart from minimally invasive surgeries, complex surgeries can also be conducted using AR. With the help of AR apps, complex surgeries can be made easier by providing the required information to the surgeons, which would otherwise be difficult to get. The treatment process will be a smooth one with AR and it will help in saving patients’ lives.
- Medical Imaging
With the help of head-mounted displays, medical imagery can be projected on the patient’s body. Doctors can get an ‘X-ray vision’ of patients by projecting CT scans through the display. Medical students can use this imagery as a learning tool whereas doctors can get the related signs of any illness and diagnose patients accordingly.
The structure of the teeth and the accurate nature of dental surgery make augmented reality an important tool in this area. With this technology, dentists will be able to get information right in front of them instead of a monitor which is placed on the other side of the room. This will make the procedures safer. With AR, dentists will be able to know about any structures that are hidden behind any bone tissue. This will help them to conduct dental surgeries with greater precision and make the surgeries a success.
- Medical Training
Medical students might often find it difficult to learn about surgical procedures, anatomy, etc. in the theoretical way. However, with augmented reality technology, medical training can be made more interactive which will help the trainees to learn easily. There are AR apps which can help students to get a better understanding of the human body and the way it functions. By overlaying digital information in the form of audio, video or 3D models onto human skeletons, students can get a better understanding of the body anatomy. Even textbooks can also have AR content integrated in them to facilitate training.
- Assisting the Visually Impaired
A major cause of visual impairment in people is Age-Related Macular Degeneration. At present, this condition, where loss of central vision occurs, doesn’t have any cure. However, in this condition, peripheral vision is not affected. With the use of an AR headset, this vision can be further improved for the wearers of the headset. This will also help in adjusting distortions, if any and provide a more natural view to the visually impaired people.
- Fitness Management
Fitness management is also an important part of the healthcare industry. With Google Glass apps and other AR apps, wellness and fitness regime can be improved significantly. For example, a person wearing a smartglass need not check his mobile app to get details about his fitness. He can see data related to his workout in his field of vision.
Medical Augmented Reality
Here are a few examples which show the use of augmented reality in healthcare.
EyeDecide is an augmented reality app which has been developed by OrcaMD, a company which is known for producing different patient education apps of high quality. With this AR app, patients can be educated on the impacts of certain conditions like AMD, cataracts, etc. on their vision. Patients can learn how vision can be affected when they are working in different light conditions. This helps them to take the necessary precautions.
MedicAR is a Google Glass app which has been launched by Droiders. The application combines augmented reality technology and Google Glass to provide surgeons with necessary help during surgeries. They will get help during the entire procedure right from showing the best area to cut for the operation to giving instructions on sewing up after the surgery is complete. This Glassware can also be a potential aid for improving the safety issues that might be faced while a surgery is performed.
This AR app is perfect for medical training. It has been developed by the Hannover School of Medicine. Medical students will be able to get a hands-on experience with this app. They can learn about medical procedures at their preferred time and place. The app works by projecting virtual diseases on healthy subjects. The students will get an experience to attend to sick patients. Students can also see texts, video and graphic information which will assist them in training.
Over the years, the healthcare industry has seen a rise in the use of augmented reality to assist patients, trainees as well as doctors. In the coming years, the use of this technology will increase even more and many more augmented reality applications will be developed to make the surgeries efficient and faster. The precision required for a successful surgical procedure can be provided with this technology. Apart from mobile AR apps, other applications for wearable devices like Google Glass will also be developed, thereby providing patients and surgeons with lots of options to choose from. Medical sector might get a boost and save more lives with augmented reality in the near future.
Do you think augmented reality will play a big role in the healthcare industry? Do you know about any other AR apps which are used for medical purpose? Share your insights in the comments below.
Image Source – medicalaugmentedreality.com