By uniting physical and virtual environments, augmented reality (AR) gives healthcare experts a deeper understanding of their patients and streamlines the way they provide treatment — even remotely.
During the coronavirus health crisis, virtual GP appointments shot up from 25% to 71%, and AR became a key element in keeping patients and doctors connected through video consultations. However, telehealth is just one way in which augmented reality is helping transform the medical industry.
In this article, we examine various AR applications in healthcare and explore how it is redefining the future of medicine.
Benefits of Using AR in Healthcare
Harnessing the power of AR in healthcare boasts a wide range of benefits for both healthcare professionals and patients.
For healthcare providers, AR:
Supports medical training to enhance doctors’ skill sets
Minimises risks during operations
Helps surgeons perform more precise operations
Makes telehealth possible by connecting doctors and patients through technology
For patients, AR:
Enables better outcomes and fewer risks
Makes surgical procedures minimally invasive
Provides a better understanding of their health conditions through 3D visualisations
Helps them manage their aftercare routines
Reduces discomfort and anxiety during blood tests
Saves time by making remote healthcare possible and effective
AR Applications in Healthcare
There are countless ways augmented reality can help medical professionals provide the best possible care for their patients. We have highlighted five main areas where AR is helping revolutionise the healthcare industry:
Education is an important AR application in the healthcare industry. Healthcare workers are tasked with learning massive amounts of information like the human anatomy and how the body functions. However, applying theoretical knowledge in a practical way can be difficult. By combining real and virtual images, augmented reality means aspiring healthcare experts can visualise every muscle and vein in the human body through 3D representations. As a result, students gain a thorough understanding of human anatomy in a more detailed and precise way. These life-like experiences are low-risk, affordable and effective for training as mentors can offer real-time feedback. However, healthcare students aren’t the only ones who can benefit from education via augmented reality. It’s now possible to use AR as a tool for patient education. For example, before any procedures, medical professionals can help their patients understand what they want to achieve through surgery to help put them at ease.
Since the pandemic struck in 2020, telehealth has entered into a new era of popularity. With patients unable to attend physical appointments due to the risk of catching coronavirus, the healthcare industry had to adapt rapidly to reduce the risk of transmission. As a result, 33% of patients would now rather use a mobile app than visit the doctor.
Augmented reality plays a significant role in remote healthcare. Fixzy Assist, for instance, combines next-generation computer vision AI and augmented reality to connect patients and doctors so they can assist in the set-up and use of personal health devices.
If the end-user struggles to take their blood pressure, for example, the healthcare expert can identify the device with AI and, via augmented reality, guide the end-user step-by-step through the process. This frees up space in primary care facilities and also saves time for both healthcare professionals and patients.
AR is changing the way surgeons perform operations. When met with complex or unfamiliar cases, surgeons often seek the advice of experts. However, this usually involves communication via email or phone before or after the operation. Telementoring, on the other hand, means the expert can see what the surgeon sees in real-time so they can provide tailored advice. AR helps surgeons increase their precision by allowing them to see through their patients. This “x-ray vision” improves outcomes for patients, as medical professionals can see exactly what they’re dealing with before (and during) the operation. For example, an AR approach can help surgeons locate and reconnect key blood vessels during reconstructive surgery. Augmented reality paired with machine learning can also help surgeons collect video data from the operating room, which can be used to make automated recommendations.
Some patients are nervous about getting blood taken. The anxiety increases when the nurse struggles to find a suitable vein, resulting in the patient being “stuck” several times. To help make the process as pain-free as possible, nurses can use augmented reality to assist in vein visualisation. An AR scanner can project over the skin to show patients’ veins, improving the chances of finding a vein on the first try.
Accidents and Emergencies
When first responders arrive on the scene of an emergency, they may not have time to get the patient in an ambulance, never mind taking them to the hospital. These situations are high-pressure, high-risk and require an immediate response. Augmented reality can help connect paramedics to off-site medical professionals to give the patient the highest chance of survival. The expert will be able to see exactly what the paramedic sees to assess the extent of the injury. They can then offer real-time advice to the paramedic, so they prescribe the best possible medicine or treatment on the spot.
Experience the Benefits of Augmented Reality with Fixzy
Fixzy Assist empowers healthcare professionals to give their patients the insights they need to look after their health remotely. Our augmented reality solution saves time and drives efficiencies with improved patient satisfaction — even off-site.
Dive into the future of healthcare with cutting-edge AR and deliver unmatched service from anywhere.
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