It is a well-known fact that healthcare industry in almost every country are facing challenges to serve the continuously increasing population. Some of the problems are logistical, like if the person is in places like mountains, it is difficult to reach there and some are permanent problems like the lack of required doctors in some institutions.
Also the ever increasing demand of supplies has been a major issue for this industry. Providing quality products takes a lot of resources and funding.Well, it's a long list of problems. But there is a technology which can be a game changer and that is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
From training medical practitioners to virtual surgeries,remotely consulting patients to advance diagnostics, AR/VR technology can be a game changer in this field.
Put it this way , digital resources have become an important part of our lives. we can get any information about anything and everything with just a click on our smartphone. We don't even need to take a break from what we are doing. Everything will come to our field of vision. Not so long from now, we will be able to experience these things in person. Both AR and VR will play a significant role in making this possible.
VR gives you the completely 3D generated environment while AR on the other side will bring a 3D animations in front of you which looks just real.
Now, let's take a look at how AR/VR are revolutionizing the Healthcare and medicine industry
Virtual Reality in Healthcare
The fields of application for virtual reality are actually quite numerous, but there's one area in particular where this technology should be developed, both for technological and humanitarian reasons: Healthcare/Medicine. This technology promises to help both doctors and patients. Below are some of the ways of how the VR is revolutionizing the healthcare industry.
Currently, medical students learn on cadavers, which are not so easy to get hold on and also do not react in the same way a live patient would. Also there are many parts which are not easy to access. But with Virtual Reality we can see each and every minute detail in 360°. We can reach and access the parts which aren’t possible in real life.
Also to get experience the operations can be streamed in real time for training purposes. Video streaming over VR improves the level of training and makes it cost effective.
Medical Realities is the company which is making this possible by filming the 4K Videos combined with CGI models of the operations of anatomy. It provides more immersive and interactive environment.
Mental Health & Psychological Therapy
With VR, we no longer need a therapist to take a client to crowded places or up at a tall building. Recreating situations are now possible with the VR. Impractical situations like flying can be created with just a click. All this can be done in a single room with just a VR and haptics wearables.
Phobias can be treated with the help of VR. Immersing user to the anxiety provoking situations and observing its behaviour can help us treating phobias in a better and faster way.
C2Phobia is one of the example of companies developing VR platforms to treat phobias. It helps in understanding the patterns of disorder and to develop more efficient strategies for treating them.
Pain Management and Physical Therapy
Kids hate needles, but it's not the physical pain and anxiety, it's just mental. So VR is being used to eliminate this by turning an experience by transporting their minds in other activities and games. It helps nurses to perform the shots without making them cry.
VR engages users in different physical activities. VR environment makes the activities more fun and helps patients to stay focused on their daily activity goals. These activities are monitored in real time by the physicians which helps in tracking their progress.
AR and VR can also be used to spread prevention awareness and help make diagnoses. VR technology could also assist in disease prevention by spreading awareness. Even in the most modern clinics, preventive information are given through pamphlets. Instead we can use a modern approach of using AR/VR to offer this information. This would increase visitor engagement and will also offer comprehensive information to the patient in a more interactive way.
VR has been extremely powerful and effective tool for disease awareness. For example, a campaign named “The Migraine Experience” has been started. IN this campaign the person who didn't suffer migraine get to experience it without any pain. The symptoms were pre-selected by the Migraine sufferer and then the headset was handed over to the non-migraine sufferers. The headset replicated some of the effects of a migraine, including severe head pain, sensitivity to sound, light, odors and optical anomalies known as auras.
Virtual Reality Counselling
With VR, we get to experience the forefront of advances in a 3D VR environment that can be modified to fit a variety of different settings to help us progress in our treatment. Counselling with VR will take us to the next level of treating patients without even moving from your chairs.
Architects and Engineers can use VR both to design and test new buildings in a virtual environment. It makes their work easy as they can modify it easily. It makes it cost effective as compared to traditional ways. Building and designing new clinics is one of its examples. It can be explored using VR headset.
Augmented Reality in Healthcare and Medicine
Currently AR technology is used to train medical practitioners and also to train patients. Healthcare workers learns a lot of human body functions and anatomy. But with AR it gives them a completely new experience to interact with 3D body parts. It makes learning fun. Rather than just looking at 2D pictures, 3D representations give them the ability to explore and interact with each and every minute details.
Medical professionals needs experience before performing real surgeries. These days practitioners stay behind the professional surgeons while performing the surgeries. These doesn’t give them the required hands on experience. So to provide hands on experience AR can be used. Simulated environments and emergency scenarios can be created so that practitioners can interact with them in real time.
Today, it's not possible for surgeons to take a look at many human parts. But with AR/VR they can visualise areas in 3D like never before. 3D representation of patients anatomy is projected in surgeons field of view with the help of AR glasses and other wearable. This improves accuracy and outcomes for patients.
Vein visualisation is one of the practical applications of augmented reality. For some patients it is uncomfortable to be injected, not finding a vein makes this even worse for patients. AccuVein for example is one of the practical use cases of Vein Visualization which is practically being used in Hospitals these days.
Real Life AR/VR Healthcare Applications
An example of AR in Virtual surgery is the use of Microsoft HoloLens as an assistant for spinal surgery. Scopis developed The Holographic Navigation Platform which is used during a surgical procedure. This Platform brings AR and MR in the operating room. It projects a mixed-reality overlay on the patient using Hololens. . Hololens gives us the ability to track down the pedicle screws during spinal surgery. Also with the help of gestures we can adjust virtual display to see what's important.
Future of Healthcare
Healthcare industry in the last decade has improved dramatically. We have made great advancements in technology that changed the way of diagnosing and treating patients. And now we have added AR/VR to the list. With AR/VR will see a completely new generation of trained professionals.
As AR/VR global market continues to grow and is expected to reach the valuation of 160B$ by 2023, Augmented reality in healthcare will surely play a big role in its growth with its variety of products. From providing real-time insights and assistance during surgical procedures, to supporting after therapy we’ve only begun our journey with Augmented Reality to revolutionize the healthcare industry.
AR/VR will be used more and more in the coming years. Improved accuracy and effectiveness will change the way we treat patients. Simply we can say that the potential of VR/AR is huge and beyond our imagination.