As the pandemic continues, some providers are looking to Virtual and Augmented reality Software tools to foster a connection with patients and support more personalized care, especially in scenarios where physical contact must be limited. The technologies can simulate a fully immersive experience (Virtual Reality) or incorporate sensory elements in a real-world setting via Augmented Reality (Pokémon GO). Until recently, the platforms were “limited to niche applications, such as the patient’s education before a surgery,” says Dr. Samuel Brown, professor of neurological surgery at the University of Washington and a co-founder of Proprio, but he notes that they’re growing exponentially as clinical teams adapt to the realities of COVID-19.
Before looking at the various benefits and uses of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) it is important to assess the differences between the two and look at the opportunity they present. We can start by understanding the difference between them both and how they can support the patient and the provider. Augmented Reality overlays, or augments, what you see in real life with location-specific information and graphics. One of the best-known examples of the technology was the 2016 ‘Pokémon Go’ phenomenon, which populated users’ mobile screens with fictional characters over a normal camera view of the world around them.
Virtual Reality creates a fully rendered digital environment that replaces the user’s real-world environment. In the field of medicine, Healthcare consumers already have had exposure to Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), some experiences — the ability to “try on” glasses via retailers’ websites, for instance — are easy and effective entry point. There are already many examples of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) adoption in healthcare, altering everything from the way medical students learn before interventional procedures to helping patients with PTSD and reducing anxiety. In medical imaging, Virtual Reality can enable better planning to support patient safety by reducing their exposure to radiation doses. The process of building a radiation therapy plan for patients is a very time-
One has to plan a very detailed radiation dose distribution in 3 dimensions, not only taking care of the complex 3D shape of a tumor, but medical professionals also have to build a minimal margin around the tumor and at the same time spare the healthy, critical structures from radiation doses, a root cause of many side effects of radiation therapies. Virtual reality (VR) has the potential to evaluate the dose distribution in 3D in an intuitive way, saving planning time with potentially greater precision and fewer side effects of the treatment. In addition to that, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are also being used in operating rooms and classrooms to help surgeons prepare for the jobs ahead. Surgeons who are using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) from the checklist perspective can walk through the organs they are about to operate on, which profoundly changes the way surgeries ar
Each new study and application points to the possibility of wider adoption of these immersive technologies, but a lot of consideration first needs to go into the context and the clinical setting for Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), followed by clinical test cases, in order for that to occur. Therefore, applying Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in clinics has been an extensively difficult process but in other areas such as Cath lab, there is a paradigm shift underway in how physicians interact with their environment. Here, the Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology delivers information through the virtual screen, in real-time. Rather than stopping and looking at a monitor, the information is right in front of the physician’s eyes, in 3D — allowing faster and more intuitive decision-making.
With Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications in healthcare likely to grow and evolve over the coming years, doctors and hospital staff have to move with the change by continuously adapting and learning new AI technologies, in an agile and fail-fast way. This is such a fast-changing market, and it will only continue to change, which presents a significant challenge to healthcare providers. In this regard, companies such as ours will be ever-ready to help in this adoption and transition and to carry forward the industry to the next level.