Healthcare is an industry where human life itself is at stake, and its effectiveness highly depends on how it uses advanced technologies like augmented reality.
With the use of augmented reality for patient care, the healthcare industry can enhance safety and efficiency. Healthcare is among the first to embrace augmented reality.
The ability of AR to blend the experience of the real world with all the power of digital information is impressive. Although AR had become popular only a few years ago, healthcare organizations have been incorporating it for several years. Combining the use of augmented reality for patient care in the healthcare industry has undoubtedly proven to be a blessing for doctors and patients. Medical history of a patient can travel with him from birth to death and can be easily accessed by doctors with the help of AR technology. By providing real-time data and patient information faster, AR gives surgeons and doctors the ability to diagnose, treat, and perform surgery on their patients more precisely than ever before. The use of augmented reality in the healthcare market is expected to increase rapidly. An estimate shows that the revenue of augmented reality in the healthcare market can grow up to USD 1.32 billion by the year 2023 at a CAGR of 23%. That’s because there are many examples where the healthcare industry is using AR for the benefit of the patient.
Applications of Augmented Reality for Patient Care
Previously, surgeons used monitors in the operating room to display the images that are captured by an endoscopic camera. This practice was risky as they had to look towards the monitor to see those images frequently. Now, with the help of AR technology, surgeons can wear a smart glass during the procedure and be focused on the task at hand, which can help improve the precision of the surgery. In addition to surgery, there are various other applications that can enhance the patient’s experience using augmented reality for patient care.
Diagnostics is an area of the healthcare industry that relies heavily on precision. Even a minute detail may lead to a drastically different diagnosis. AR can play a vital role in preventing incorrect diagnoses. It can be used to look at the patients’ internal organs for precise diagnostics. Advanced diagnostics can also help the doctor to monitor and spot early symptoms of a disease and can help them treat the patient at an early stage of the disease. AR diagnostics can help doctors get a clear view of the patient’s anatomy with real-time information.
Three-dimensional overlay of internal injuries or tumors can help surgeons to become more accurate towards planning the surgery procedure. AR can assist in lengthy and complicated surgeries. It can reduce time, cut the risk, and improve results. Various software companies provide tools to project medical images like CT scans and MRI data on a patient’s body, to help surgeons during surgical procedures.
What if a specialist in a particular field of surgery is urgently needed at a remotely situated hospital? AR, along with VR, can allow a surgeon to virtually transfer himself into any hospital in the world, thereby allowing them to interact and guide another surgeon through a surgical procedure. AR can also be used to provide a reference board with information such as the patient’s medical history and vital stats, emerging at the request of a surgeon. It can also provide a visual shorthand for operating procedures in different scenarios.
Software companies are building AR software that can empower patients to become proactive in their own care. For instance, AR can be beneficial in the field of physiotherapy and physical rehabilitation. AR can be used to map digital demonstrations onto the motions people perform. Then by watching themselves in comparison to the presentation; patients can refine their movements and rehabilitate their bodies. By placing a phone towards the city landscape, a patient can find information and direction for a nearby hospital.
Taking blood from a patient’s vein for performing medical tests is a painful and unpleasant procedure. The experience becomes worse if they are being injected multiple times to find a vein. Several times, first intravenous injections fail, and the ratio increases even higher in the case of children and aged patients. AR, with the help of near-infrared imaging, can project veins over the skin to minimize the number of injection fails in patients. For instance, global leaders in medical imaging solutions, are using handheld scanner for vein visualization. Vein visualization has increased the first injection success ratio by 98%.
AR can be used as ultrasound scanners, which, with the help of smart glasses, can work like traditional ones. Ultrasound-guided biopsies are difficult to perform as good hand-eye coordination and 3D visualization skills are required to guide the biopsy needle to the target tissue. However, AR and head-mounted display devices can together make this process simpler and more effective by removing the need to always look on the monitor to get the ultrasound scan. AR, along with VR, can also be used to scan the womb of a pregnant woman and see the movement of the fetus.
A patient may be required to continue some medication or therapy even after leaving the hospital, to successfully eradicate a disease. AR can help patients who are leaving hospitals, to stay on track with their treatment at home by acting as a healthcare assistant. A patient can maintain his diet plan and keep track of the amount of nutrition he consumes with the help of AR. Patients can keep a regular check on their medical stats and can also improve them with AR. For example, AR applications, after installing on a smartphone, can help a patient to increase athletic performance, decrease stress and blood pressure, and improve overall health. As visuals are more easy to remember, a doctor can provide a list of Dos and Don’ts to the patient by using AR, so that it becomes easy for the patient to remember them.
AR can be used to inform people about the symptoms of a disease which can help them to have a more effective consultation with the doctor. Educating people about the impact that a disease can cause and how to avoid getting into trouble with the help of AR can be immensely life-saving. Marker-based AR can be used to demonstrate the information on medicine and how it functions inside our body, in the form of a 3-D model. AR can also be used to educate the family members of a patient about the consequences of a disease, which can help them contribute towards the well-being of the patient. Surgeons can use AR to demonstrate a patient what surgery the patient is about to undergo and what his plans are for the operation. Showing the surgery procedure to the patient can help the surgeon gain the trust of the patient. It will also help the patient to relax a little instead of getting anxious about the surgery.
AR has clearly shown improved outcomes in healthcare and will surely bring more significant changes in the coming years. Shortly we will be dazzled by breakthroughs made possible by the development of AR in healthcare. Augmented reality for patient care will become more prominent in the healthcare industry if healthcare centers and doctors start the use of AR and implement its use in the daily routine of treatment.
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