Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies in medicine are revolutionizing patient treatment. Here’s where AR and VR in medicine could be headed.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies can be used to improve the patient experience.
- With AR and VR, surgeons, radiologists, and other healthcare professionals can leverage 3D models of patients’ anatomical structures to find ways to deliver outstanding patient care.
- Demand for AR and VR in healthcare is rising, due in part to the rising use of connected devices.
- Healthcare professionals are increasingly utilizing AR and VR to prepare for medical procedures and perform post-treatment analysis.
- Medical students can utilize AR and VR to perform simulated procedures without the need for cadavers.
Surgeons, radiologists, and other healthcare professionals share a common goal: To ensure patients receive the best care possible. To achieve this goal, these professionals receive comprehensive medical training. They also leverage a wide range of technologies and continue to explore advancements that can reshape the way healthcare professionals and patients engage with each other.
Two new technologies have made their mark in medicine: AR and VR. Together, these technologies have the potential to help healthcare practitioners optimize patient outcomes.
AR and VR in medicine now and in the future
AR and VR technologies in healthcare are not new. They have been implemented in hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the world. To date, the technologies have delivered results across many healthcare applications, too.
From using AR to improve liver cancer therapy to creating VR surgery simulations, healthcare systems are utilizing the technology across a variety of applications. The development is ongoing, due in large part to the rising demand for AR and VR in medical applications.
Research indicates the global market for AR and VR in healthcare is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 30.7% between 2017 and 2025. This market could be worth $6.5 billion by 2025.
Three factors that could drive demand for AR and VR in medicine in the years to come include:
1. Increasing use of connected devices
Healthcare practitioners are increasingly adopting Internet of Things (IoT) devices for remote patient monitoring, collecting patient data, and sharing information with patients. This is driving growth in the global healthcare connected device market, which is projected to be worth nearly $60 billion by 2027. As demand for connected medical devices grows, demand for AR and VR technologies that work in combination with these devices is likely to increase as well.
2. New AR and VR investments
Microsoft HoloLens and other emerging technologies help healthcare professionals deliver fast, efficient patient care. Meanwhile, many healthcare technology companies are looking at ways to enhance their existing AR and VR technologies or develop new ones. They are investing heavily in the technologies, which could lead to the development of a wide range of AR and VR healthcare tools in the years to come.
3. Ongoing need to reduce healthcare costs
Although healthcare professionals constantly seek ways to keep their operating expenses low, doing so remains a major roadblock. Now, AR and VR technologies can help these professionals improve their patient outcomes and minimize treatment costs. The technologies empower healthcare professionals to connect with patients, learn about them, and provide the ideal treatment as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The result: AR and VR can provide cost savings for healthcare professionals and their patients.
5 ways to realize the medical benefits of AR and VR
There’s a lot to like about AR and VR in healthcare. Here are five ways healthcare practitioners can use these technologies.
1. Pre-surgery planning
With AR and VR, a surgeon can put together a treatment plan that accounts for their patient’s anatomy. The surgeon can use these technologies as part of the planning process and determine the precise steps to ensure the treatment is completed as expected.
2. Informed consent
Surgeons and other healthcare professionals must explain the procedures they propose to patients and respond to any concerns or questions in order to obtain informed consent. AR and VR can use 3D models to display how a procedure will be performed in greater detail than ever before. This ensures patients know what to expect during a procedure and helps them make informed treatment decisions.
3. Intraoperative surgery guidance
Software is available that lets healthcare practitioners use patients’ MRI and CT scans to produce 3D models of patients’ anatomical structures. When used in combination with AR and VR technologies, the software allows surgeons and other doctors to review these structures and determine the best course of action to treat their patients.
4. Post-surgery analysis
Along with pre-surgery planning, AR and VR can be used as part of the post-surgery cycle. Following a procedure, a surgeon can generate digital MRI and CT scans of their patient’s anatomical structures and use them to visualize 3D models of the healing organs to determine the effectiveness of treatment.
5. Medical education and training
AR and VR can transform the way medical students build their skill sets. The technologies allow students to perform simulated treatments using 3D models in lieu of cadavers.
AR and VR healthcare advances are on the horizon
The benefits of AR and VR can be significant for healthcare professionals and patients. Going forward, demand for these technologies will likely increase. Practitioners who stay up to date on AR and VR may find many ways to integrate these technologies into their everyday operations, too.
DICOM Director has introduced a medical tool built with AR and VR top of mind: Intravision XR. This tool lets healthcare professionals automatically visualize 3D models of patients’ anatomical structures and visualize them using AR and VR. For more information about Intravision XR, please contact us today.