Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and computer vision have become more accessible and easy to use. The potential of such technologies to provide advanced feature-based techniques accelerates their adoption in almost every industry. One such technology is augmented reality (AR), which integrates digital information with the user's environment in real-time.
While augmented reality is mostly associated with captivating the entertainment and gaming industry, it is making significant progress in healthcare. The potential for augmented reality to make drastic breakthroughs is significant, especially for a specialty like radiology.
This blog explores applications of AR in healthcare and its impact.
The Impact of Augmented Reality on Healthcare
Studies about medical malpractices show up to 1,500,00 people suffer a nonfatal injury due to medical error each year. As a technology applied to reduce medical errors and improve patient care and safety, AR aims to facilitate doctors via visualization to access patients immediately, assist first responders with treatment instructions, and diagnose the patients' current condition directly using emergency medical services (EMS).
AR technology impacts medical training and education by creating simulations of surgeries and enabling students to practice in real-time, emphasizing practical skills. It provides patient-specific information to healthcare professionals and improves communication between members of the patient's care team. Also, AR can help decrease costs by using video telehealth features that facilitate real-time communication with remote medical professionals, allowing healthcare to allocate resources efficiently.
6 Applications of Augmented Reality in Healthcare
Augmented reality revolutionizes how medical professionals diagnose, treat, and educate patients. Here is a list of six augmented reality applications in healthcare where AR is making a difference.
Medical training using AR technology is not uncommon in healthcare today. It enables medical students to practice their theoretical knowledge with case-based simulations interactively. AR tools help learners develop their skills in safe digital environments. With AR-based medical training, students can practice at their own pace, repeat procedures, and gain real-time access to the latest surgical techniques.
For instance, Touch Surgery is an AR-based startup that allows users to practice surgery using surgical simulations.
AR-Enabled Assistance for Surgeries
Surgeons can receive real-time intraoperative guidance from other remote surgical specialists, physicians, or medical device/technology experts using AR. This can be beneficial, especially when the procedure is complex, and the surgeon can benefit from additional technical expertise during the surgery.
Medical professionals use the AR-enabled headset to display images from X-rays or CT scans onto the patient's body. This enables them to have an X-ray vision of the patient in real-time.
In-Hospital AR Navigation
Medical facilities often contain many buildings and floors; navigating them can be complex and time-consuming. AR-based indoor navigation helps patients and medical staff navigate the buildings and quickly find the right room or equipment. AR navigation uses AR technology to provide users with directions on a screen overlaid on top of real-world environments, which can be seen using a camera of users' devices, such as a tablet or smartphone.
The AR technology is applied for data visualization in drug discovery to enable scientists and health experts to assess complex genetic data. AR helps in the research and development process in pharma companies for drug discovery and the study of several different types of diseases. Moreover, the technology is used to share information with other scientists working in remote locations. It also enhances sample security and data integration to boost global healthcare collaboration.
Since AR technology can provide a 3D view of images, it enables us to observe the working of a drug in our body in three-dimension. Also, lab techs use specialized equipment to track experiments using augmented reality.
Today doctors and nurses use a handheld AR devices to detect patient veins. The device uses augmented reality and helps detect veins using an infrared laser and then displays the image back onto the patient's skin to help healthcare professionals.
One example is AccuVein, which is a vein visualization device. It helps healthcare in vein detection processes and increases IV accuracy. The device can be used in several procedures, such as blood draws, cosmetic procedures, etc.
Interventional radiology is a medical disciple that uses medical imaging to perform several minimally-invasive procedures. These include X-ray fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging, etc., to diagnose and treat diseases. Since AR can convert CT imaging into a dense three-dimensional map of structures and help in medical imaging. It can be used to facilitate interventional radiology.
Using AR, medical professionals can access or display medical imaging in 3D space during surgical radiology procedures to benefit from enhanced guidance.
The Future of Augmented Reality in Healthcare
The rise of augmented reality in healthcare, such as surgical simulation, diagnostic, imaging, and patient care management, is boosting sales opportunities for the worldwide AR market. We can expect greater integration of AR with other technologies and more personalized patient care. Also, the expansion of 5G networks may enable support for cloud-based augmented reality, providing AR applications with higher data speeds and lower latency.