Technologies nowadays are becoming more and more accessible and user friendly and pertaining to the huge potential that they can unleash such advanced feature-based techniques are being adopted by almost every industry. However, in the healthcare sector, the applications and uses of augmented reality are vast.
Augmented reality-based tools and features are being used in healthcare by professionals to communicate, educate and engage the patients as well as in creating new innovative techniques for various other purposes.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality or AR is an interactive experience or enhanced version of the real world to be presented in a more understandable way with the help of computerized tools. This is done with the use of digital tools like - animations, graphics, sounds, etc. to be able to create an amalgamation of the real and the virtual worlds to be able to get a detailed view of what is present or the necessary information related to it which is put on.
At most augmented reality-based information can be accessed via smartphones and internet-based devices. This can be done via scanning a barcode printed on real-life items to get an artificial view of them or by applications specially crafted for specific purposes by industries.
This differs from virtual reality in terms of virtual reality being an absolute artificial experience created by computerized tools which have the features of the real world in virtual simulations.
Augmented Reality and Healthcare Sector
In the healthcare sector features of augmented reality are being used by both trained medical professionals as well as in training the medical students or in during their education to illustrate and teach medical experience in a rather safe, economical, and comprehensive way.
This will also not be wrong to say that this feature of having ample information at hand aligning with real-life scenes and detailed way of presentation is making the medical field take an advanced approach in their practice.
Augmented Reality based medical applications are being used by people to learn and get educated about basic anatomy and first aid, this is being used by practitioners ranging from dentists to surgeons and by all those learning it.
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The required setup for an AR-based is a smartphone, internet and in some cases, this has to be clubbed with a specialized application to guide the users through various steps. There are also startups focusing on making healthcare an augmented reality adaptive industry as they have not failed to understand the bright side of being technologically upgraded.
Let’s have a look at how AR is being used in Healthcare practically.
Applications of Augmented Reality in Healthcare
1. Medical Training
Medical training is the spot in healthcare that separately has a significant base for the applications of augmented reality. Augmented reality in educating the young medical students about human anatomy and various other concepts in a rather detailed and realistic way.
So that they can see the practically detailed processes in a 3D way on devices while learning. Augmented reality can be integrated with textbooks and curriculums can be more technology-friendly as it is certainly obvious how seeing things for real has a scope of better understanding.
Moreover, AR can also be used in learning the functioning and effect of specific drugs and medication in the human body as they go on to be displayed by the graphics and animations in addition to the real images with pop-ups of each process on the screen. There are some complex concepts that can be practically displayed using the technology.
2. Surgery Preparation
Medical surgeries are yet another branch in healthcare that is crucial for its nature. Augmented reality can be used to realistically display how the procedures take place during various kinds of operations. They can be practicing tools for the learners to learn the medical processes instead of the traditional cadaver-based practice. Throughout the process, they can be guided on their next step so as to inculcate the learning process by doing it on their own.
Also, surgeries are prone to mortality, but with the implementation of augmented reality there can be more safety measures taken than before, the doctors and surgeons can be assisted by their fellows virtually, as they go on to operate they can be more aware of the organ location, steps to deal with complications, veins mesh and the reports and conditions of the patients right in front of their eyes.
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In certain cases there happens to be a requirement of an experienced specialist to perform surgeries when they are miles away. In such a case using AR-based applications and digital devices, the doctors who happen to perform surgery can maintain real-time visual-based communication while operating with the specialists remotely. Such things are possible by combining augmented reality-based features with other advanced analytics like artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, etc.
Applications of Augmented Reality in healthcare
3. Medical Imaging
In certain medical procedures, there needs to be some sort of testing of the well-being of the internal organs to carry out further treatment. Traditionally thermometers, X-rays, ECG, MRI Scans, etc. have been used in the medical processes to diagnose.
The augmented reality here can be a source of taking the medical imaging to a different level altogether, specialized devices can be used combined with the Internet of Things based sensors and softwares to get various readings and carrying out the related diagnosis on the patients and using the graphics those can be seen and displayed in real-time in a rather comprehensive and detailed way to the doctors.
Such features can be used to educate patients better about their condition and in explaining the impacts of various treatments on their bodies so that they can readily take the necessary precautions and be attentive throughout their recovery journey.
4. Better Symptom Description
Often it happens that when it comes to explaining the prevalent conditions to the doctors the patients end up either exaggerating or undermining their symptoms. This can lead to an errorsome diagnosis and treatment. Augmented reality can help doctors have a better view of the condition which surpasses the patient's description without any scope of error, they can check and have a say in the real condition of the patient.
For example, EyesDecide is a medical application that uses a camera display for simulating the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision in graphic images. This helps both the doctors and the patients to have an understanding of actual symptoms and treat them accordingly.
5. Innovative Drug Information
By using augmented reality and graphics the pharmaceutical companies can leave a trustworthy image on the minds of the users of the medication. Instead of telling the efficiency of the drug at the back of the syrup bottle in medical jargon, the patients can now see in 3D how the drugs work inside of their bodies against a specific medical condition.
This can be simply executed by setting up a detailed video graphic on the website of the company and the patients can scan the barcode on the bottle to land on the same page and can see for themselves.
Not just for patient education, the company itself can use augmented reality-based interfaces to guide the workers throughout the manufacturing process with detailed images and instructions on their smartphones at each stage or on the screens installed.
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6. Easier Vein Finding
While injecting drugs directly into the bloodstream using syringes there is a fair chance of a missed vein in the first instance and this is highly probable in the cases of children and the elderly.
AccuVein seeks to eradicate this issue by using augmented reality in the form of a handheld scanner that can be moved on the skin and helps the doctors and nurses to see where the veins are in the patient’s body.
Such technologies are making the chances of errors and problems relatively less for the doctors and the patients as well and are helping the medical professionals in honing their skills. According to the marketing specialist of AccuVein, Vinny Luciano, the application helps with finding a vein on the first stick 3.5x more likely.
The Healthcare sector has been taking dynamic and really technologically advanced steps with the applications of augmented reality. It has been helping and making the process easier and more convenient for both the medical professionals as well as for the patients. They also can be more aware and interactive about the medications which they are using, the health conditions, and even improvement details.
This also makes the healthcare system more transparent, educating, and adaptive. Augmented reality has opened several avenues of its implementation in healthcare itself, ranging from education of the young professionals in a rather detailed way to practice of the prevalent medical procedures leaving comparatively lesser room for errors.
Also as this goes on to perform such significant functions this is very cost preventing, the traditional tools of medical learning are expensive and often one needs huge medical exposure to understand one’s condition, augmented reality works by providing economical and descriptive solutions and alternatives in the healthcare industry.