Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years or so, you’ve probably heard some of the buzz surrounding augmented reality (AR).
While this revolutionary technology has made waves in the gaming and marketing spaces, specifically, AR has also created a handful of unique and potentially life-saving opportunities.
Unlike virtual reality (VR), augmented reality provides a greater level of interaction with the real world, making it a highly practical and appropriate solution for those in healthcare.
If you’re a doctor or an educator in the medical field, you too may be able to reap the benefits of this technology! Here are five ways that AR is being used in modern healthcare.
1. Unique Learning Opportunities
Some of the best opportunities to use augmented reality occur in the classroom, of all places.
More and more institutions are beginning to use augmented reality in online learning, as students are able to get a better, inside look at the human body.
This is without even having to step foot inside an operating room! Students are able to glean a wealth of knowledge, simply through AR technology that can overlay charts, diagrams, and scans over the human body. This creates an even more visual representation of different organs and systems.
What’s more is that this technology can be used not only in the classroom but also from the comfort of the student’s own home or dormitory. Educators may choose to make AR technology and materials available outside the classroom!
2. Hands-On Training Opportunities
AR technology also brings hands-on experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. In fact, most real-life situations can be replicated within an augmented environment.
Consider the medical student who is learning to perform a specific procedure. Often, the student will need to work with a cadaver — or more intimidating yet, with a live body under supervision.
Of course, live circumstances leave no room for mistakes. Furthermore, there are not always ample practice opportunities.
With the use of AR, on the other hand, students get even more practice time. Without any repercussions, students can make mistakes, learn from them, and try again.
3. Assistance in Surgery
Augmented reality can play an important role in surgery as well.
Up to 30% of graduating general surgery residents are unable to operate independently. With the use of AR technology, however, surgeons gain the ability to practice surgery more often and develop proficiency.
Furthermore, surgeons are able to superimpose scans over a patient’s body, viewing both the patient’s scan and actual body through the system’s goggles.
As you would imagine, this is a particularly helpful and potentially lifesaving tool when employed in a number of areas — especially in a field such as brain surgery, where any missteps can be highly damaging.
The AR technology is able to assist the brain surgeon in navigating the brain’s many blood vessels and tissues, essentially serving as a second pair of eyes.
4. Assistance in Dentistry
Because the human mouth only offers a limited amount of working space, dentists and oral surgeons alike are required to navigate tight spaces with absolute precision.
With the help of AR technology, dental professionals can more easily identify problematic areas within the mouth — whether it’s the site of an infection or the potential depth of a cavity.
What’s more is that dentists are able to use AR technology to design implants or crowns, which allows them to create a more seamless fit for the patient’s tooth and mouth.
5. Assistance in Optometry
The human eye is such a small organ, yet even one wrong move can be devastating to what is perhaps the body’s most cherished sense.
Fortunately, AR technology can offer plenty of assistance when it comes to optometrists and optometrists needing to diagnose and treat problems with the eyes.
In fact, eye professionals can even build out a model of a patient’s eye, study it, develop a diagnosis, and then use it to convey information to the patient. It can even be tweaked and superimposed during operations!
Augmented reality can also assist in helping patients and customers choose new eyewear. Using AR goggles, a patient can overlay different frames and see what they might look like.
This means an eye doctor or assistant doesn’t need to take a patient into another room of the office either. Everything can be performed at one station!
All in all, there are already a handful of ways in which augmented reality is being used in healthcare. Just a few years ago, the augmented and virtual reality in healthcare market was valued at roughly $500 million. That number is expected to grow to well over $4 billion by 2023!