How is augmented reality transforming the healthcare industry?

The augmented reality (AR) industry is one of the fastest growing segments in the immersive technology market.

One of the main industries fueling the rise of AR is healthcare, which could transform training and therapeutic processes by providing doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals with timely assistance.

According to a report by Grandview Research, augmented reality has reached a crucial point in its growth due to the demand for remote collaboration and the need to support a distributed workforce.

A 2020 analysis from ResearchAndMarkets also revealed that the healthcare AR market will reach $4 billion by 2025.

Understand the role of augmented reality in healthcare

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to an interactive digital experience where 3D representations of virtual objects are superimposed on a real environment to provide a multimedia experience for the user.

A good example of AR technology is Snapchat filters, where different graphic elements are placed and anchored to a person’s real facial features on the mobile screen.

AR healthcare apps use similar principles to combine digital content such as diagrams, instructions, arrows, text, and more using real-world images and photographs.

There are three primary use cases for AR in healthcare:

  • Training and collaboration – AR makes learning and information sharing more interactive by increasing knowledge retention and learner engagement.
  • Guided therapy – AR enables doctors and nurses to receive real-time advice on therapeutic practices, even when the person giving the advice is seated in a different place.
  • Patient empowerment – Augmented reality makes it easier for patients to convey information about their health conditions and symptoms, and helps prevent disease by educating users on how to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Examples of how augmented reality can transform healthcare

Here are eight examples of how AR can impact healthcare:

1. AR Cards for Emergency Health Care

AR can help locate emergency healthcare options quickly in an urgent situation.

Mobile apps can highlight the location of a nearby doctor, clinic, or medical equipment center when the user holds a smartphone up in front of a street, similar to the AR game Pokemon Go.

The AR healthcare app would clearly show the facilities available at a location, without having to enter the premises.

2. Support during childcare

Caring for very young children can be difficult for newly appointed nurses and new mothers, especially when they are unable to bring a child to the clinic.

A remote healthcare expert can guide new parents through childcare practices by overlaying instructions, insights and advice directly onto a video feed of the child.

For example, the Australian Breastfeeding Association is currently testing Google Glass AR to inform mothers about child care and breastfeeding procedures.

3. AR for Doctor-Patient Communication

It can be difficult for doctors to clearly communicate the details of health problems and solutions to their patients. Because health care is a complex subject, some advice may be lost in translation.

AR healthcare solutions allow physicians to guide patients through a hands-on explanation of a symptom and how to resolve it.

In ophthalmology, for example, doctors could explain problems more clearly by working with an AR model of the human eye.

4. AR for intravenous injections

It is one of the simplest applications of AR healthcare that can be widely implemented and would prove extremely beneficial for nurses.

Some nurses may have difficulty finding the correct vein before giving an intravenous injection, which negatively impacts the patient experience and leads to delays in the care delivery process.

An AR app would project images of human anatomy and the nervous system directly onto a person’s skin and indicate the precise location of veins.

5. Pharmaceutical Collaboration

Augmented reality can accelerate drug discovery by making it easier to visualize molecular structures.

It also allows multiple stakeholders to share the information by overlaying text and other content on the AR display. Better pharmaceutical collaboration can shorten the time to drug discovery, design, testing and approval.

6. AR guidance during surgery

AR healthcare apps can provide surgeons with “x-ray vision” when performing operations. They can put on a pair of AR glasses that overlay anatomical models on the patient’s physical body.

One such solution is HoloAnatomy, which is currently used for training purposes. Surgeons can also receive real-time guidance via AR glasses.

7. AR for healthier lifestyles

Augmented reality can encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyle habits in several ways. It could make it easier to assemble and use fitness equipment at home.

An AR healthy food app could scan and display nutrition information using AR-enabled smartphones, or inform users of their exercise progress, such as displaying step count, pace, and speed. heart rate during a walk.

8. Interactive healthcare training

Augmented reality can help learners at all grade levels and train medical professionals on very complex procedures. Image reconstruction technology can help visualize complex issues like tumors in detail before surgery.

Students can use AR apps on their smartphones to learn more about the human body by scanning anatomical models with their smartphones or devices.

Benefits of AR in Healthcare

The biggest benefit of using AR in healthcare is that it allows people to visualize very complex information in an understandable way.

AR apps make it possible to visualize complex human structures through the convenience of a smartphone or lightweight AR glasses.

Information shared via augmented reality is also easier to understand than traditional communication methods and supports interactive walkthroughs.

AR also enables training and brainstorming in a safe environment without requiring trials with real patients.

Before a drug enters real-world trials, pharmaceutical players can explore various molecular combinations without any risk. Some companies specializing in AR healthcare apps include 8chili, Zoho Lens, and EchoPixel, among others.

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