Virtual augmentation, in fact, has invaded the medical industry. It has been my realization while delivering speeches in a number of high-profile medical and healthcare conferences being hosted all over the world. I took immense interest for an in-depth exploration of Augmented Reality and its applicability in healthcare. The revelations were highly surprising.
What I discovered is that a number of augmentation based apps has already made their way into the world’s leading health organizations and are offering wonderful service.This promising digital technology application is about to revolutionize the future healthcare landscape bringing in newer enhancements for the benefits of both doctor and patients.
Virtual augmentation or you may call it augmented reality (AR) helps you get the indirect view of an environment transmitted live in augmented form by the computer-generated inputs which include audio, video, graphics and GPS data without detaching the user from the current environment.
Why is AR gaining so much hype in global healthcare service delivery? Let us have a brief analysis both from the physician’s and patient’s perspective:
Making complex processes easier:
Precision is the key to a successful surgery. With AR applications, physicians can enhance their efficiency.
- Facebook’s Oculus Rift Goggles enables surgeons navigate virtually through the 3D models of CT scans and MRIs helping them in finding the safest route for tumor surgery.
- Helps in improved visualization even for minimally invasive surgeries.
- Open heart surgery can be performed easily due to improved AR visualization and robotics.
Reduce the unpleasant experiences:
For example, the repeated painful needle pricks one has to face during blood tests from the pathologists due to the inability of finding the right vein. The inability to get the right vein in the first prick happens in 40% cases. AccuVein, the AR app illuminates the area from where the blood is to be drawn helping the medical assistants find the right vein and finish their job in a single prick.
Helping patients understand the symptoms better:
Many patients either overreact during a diagnosis or give much importance to the outcome.
-AR based App can help in presenting the actual impact of specific symptoms on the patient’s health.
-The patient can explain the symptoms in a better way.
– Avoids miscommunication or misreporting
-Enables accurate diagnosis
– Also enhances awareness in patients.
Proper patient education leads to effectiveness of the treatment and aftercare. Reports from Institute of Medicine suggest that 50% of US Adults have a limited level of health literacy where 9 of 10 patients are unable to understand the basic health information. [https://medium.com/]
- The multisensory experience through AR apps can better illustrate the effect of a specific ailment making the patient aware of his/her health status.
- Educates the family members to help the patient in treatment management and self protection as well.
- 3D models can help in explaining the action of drugs on the body of the patients alerting them to follow the right medication and not take them at a random. It also cautions patients to avoid drinking and taking specific medication at the same time.
Better record management and timely patient care:
Managing medical records is a burden to global healthcare industry where medical professionals often struggle to dig out the specific information.
- Augmented reality helps in efficient record management.
- The required patient information can be accessed fast with much-reduced chances of error.
- The patient gets timely care and attention.
Enabling better interactive medical training:
One of the most innovative applications of AR that involves live interactive imaging for medical assistants and students giving them a better understanding of the health issues.
-With AR, medical students are better exposed to understanding human anatomy.
-Gives deeper insight of human organs and systems.
Creating improved consultation platform by sharing patient’s perspective:
-Through this innovative platform, the telephone counselors were able to view the situation from the mother’s eye and provided instant help.
-Many such situations can be addressed from home through AR platforms preventing the patient rushing for a quick consultation.
Helping in early detection of specific ailments:
Augmented Reality can prevent big health disasters.
- Abnormal skin lesions and skin moles in high-risk individuals can be monitored regularly with AR app.
- The doctors can quickly compare the observation with previous documents and detect the possibility of skin cancer at the earliest.
Pharmacy Benefit Management:
- With an Apps based on Google Glass, it is convenient to maintain the medicine calendar.
- Cautions patients regarding missing a medication or over dosage.
- Also provides the required fitness and diet tips.
Accessing real-time guidance and mentoring from the best professionals irrespective of the geographical location during a complex surgical process is another boon of AR. Considering the rising shortage of global medical specialists, this remote mentoring through AR is likely to be the order of the day.
Surgeons can virtually connect with the mentors while the operation is on by using VIPAAR (Virtual Interactive Presence and Augmented Reality) through Google Glass where there the real-time superimposition of the mentor’s hand and the operating surgeon’s vision helps in accomplishing the complex task.