Here’s how doctors are using AR to improve patient outcomes
- Augmented reality (AR) technology is being rapidly integrated into different areas of healthcare.
- Doctors are using AR to prepare for surgery and foster trust with patients.
- Medical students are leveraging AR to practice medical procedures on 3D models rather than real patients, which reduces patient risk and helps students enhance their skills.
- Emergency responders are using AR headsets to engage with doctors and receive expert insights into how to administer proper first aid and care to accident victims.
- First responders are leveraging AR to practice CPR techniques and prepare for real-world emergencies.
Augmented reality (AR) is transforming healthcare. Several healthcare use cases for AR have been developed and studied, and the results look promising so far. As the demand for AR in healthcare rises, expect new use cases to help doctors engage with patients like never before.
AR helps doctors prep for surgery
Doctors can use AR for full anatomic visualization of structures within the body prior to surgery. Software is available that lets doctors produce models that accurately represent full-dimensional anatomy, not just surface of volume renderings.
AR software enables doctors to view internal, histologic structures within organs, from any angle or magnification. It also lets doctors manipulate the scale, rotation, and plane of organs.
AR fosters trust between physicians and patients
Informed consent, i.e., the process by which a doctor gets permission from a patient before administering treatment, is essential for building trust between physicians and patients. Augmented reality can help patients visualize the problem and the treatment, which makes the informed consent process faster and more transparent.
Physicians are using tools like Microsoft HoloLens and other AR headsets to share treatment information with patients and demonstrate the potential benefits and risks associated with it. This allows doctors to go beyond 2D images to ensure patients are well-equipped to make informed treatment decisions.
AR delivers unprecedented learning experiences
Medical students can use AR technology to practice with virtual objects that resemble organs without putting their patients’ health at risk. AR technology can also be used to recreate the human body, allowing students to digitally interact with its parts and organs.
AR software can produce animated or 3D models of individual human structures. Med students can then use these models to remove and study different structures from all angles.
In addition, a plastic skeleton can be equipped with QR codes or other markers that trigger AR text that includes bone names, characteristics, functions, and other educational data. This helps students learn the intricate details of human anatomy that any physician must know.
AR enhances first aid training
An AR app can be used as part of a first aid training program to help first responders build the skills they need to properly administer life-saving support.
AR technology can project an image of a patient over a CPR manikin. This lets a trainee perform CPR on a physical object while seeing a virtual patient that may react to stimulus in different ways.
Furthermore, AR can be incorporated into detailed first-responder training scenarios. For example, AR can be used to create a model of a patient with a particular skin color, breathing frequency, and position. The patient can then perform various gestures or make sounds that indicate what is wrong with him or her. This helps the first responder to quickly identify the issue and quickly administer proper first aid measures.
AR empowers emergency responders to provide effective first aid
An emergency responder could also use an AR headset and app to treat accident victims under the guidance of doctors. The headset may project patient information to a remote doctor’s display. Next, the doctor can share oral or graphic instructions to help the responder stabilize the patient. The doctor can even add images to a screen that will be projected back to the responder and overlaid on the patient in their headset view.
The bottom line on AR in healthcare
AR offers a number of benefits in healthcare, including:
Realistic training experiences
With AR, models are used to provide a realistic impression of how the human body is built and functions. AR lets healthcare practitioners and medical students use virtual patients in lieu of real ones. In doing so, AR reduces patient risk and instills confidence in those who want to learn how to perform a wide range of medical procedures.
Setting up anatomy theaters and practicing on cadavers and specimens can be expensive. AR technology is readily available at a fraction of that cost. This technology can be easily integrated into healthcare facilities and medical school classrooms, too.
Medical training once forced healthcare professionals to account for facility schedules and disposable materials. Today, AR gives these professionals a way to practice medical techniques from virtually any location at any time. It also helps them remotely administer critical care to ER patients.
The bottom line on AR in healthcare
There is a lot to like about AR in healthcare thus far, so don’t expect the push for it to slow down any time soon, either. Regulatory hurdles remain before some of these applications can become mainstream, but we’ll be monitoring the situation and posting regular updates in this blog.
DICOM Director provides Intravision XR, a cloud-based medical software tool for healthcare professionals. Intravision XR lets doctors automatically create fully formed 3D models and use AR and virtual reality (VR) to visualize them.
With Intravision XR, doctors can use CT and MRI scans to produce 3D models that contain complete anatomical detail. Models can be viewed using AR, VR, or standard screens (phone, tablet, or computer).
We are happy to teach you about Intravision XR and other next-generation medical imaging solutions. To learn more, please contact us today.