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Mixed Reality in Healthcare

AR in healthcare

Men are only good as their Technical Development allows them to be.” – George Orwell   

Let’s cut the chase and answer the most prominent question.

Can AR revolutionise Healthcare? 

Let’s ask Bob. 

Bob is a Biology doctor in New York. While cleaning his home chimney, he fell down from the ladder and broke 19 bones. 

Doctor said, forget walking, he will never be able to sit up straight for the rest of his life.  

But now, not just walking, he’s working out a bike machine and planning to start weight lifting next week!!!


Augmented Reality!

Yes…AR helped Bob Jester rise again from the bed and live life the way he wants to. 

Augmented Reality in Healthcare and Medicine 

Today, the entire world is using the power of augmented reality and virtual reality to save lives. 

In Canada, University students developed a VR-based game to distract cancer patients from pain felt during chemotherapy. 

Students at UC San Francisco are now using XR headsets to practise dynamically removing layers of tissue and organ systems at zero risk to patients. 

The VR system is helping surgeons of Stanford Medicine to plan upcoming operations, educate patients, and guide them during medical operations in a 3-d space. The Doctors are calling VR technology ‘A window into the brain’. 

Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic are using XR to layer 3-d virtual projections of patients’ anatomies to improve efficiency and reduce procedure time. 

AR has the power to revolutionise healthcare and boost economic growth!

According to the report by PwC, AR and VR will boost $350.9 billion GDP in Healthcare by 2030! 

But, how?

Well, AR provides immersive and interactive training experiences for healthcare professionals. It enhances medical education by overlaying digital information on real-world objects, making it easier to understand complex medical concepts.

Augmented Reality assists surgeons in planning and performing complex procedures. By overlaying patient data, such as medical images or 3D models, onto the surgical field in real-time, AR can provide surgeons with enhanced visualisation, improving precision and reducing errors.

Also, AR enables remote collaboration and consultation in real-time. Healthcare professionals can use AR-enabled devices to share their viewpoint with remote experts, who can then provide guidance, annotations, and instructions, improving decision-making and reducing the need for physical presence. 

Augmented Reality in healthcare is going to be a massive industry in the next 5 years. 

9 Augmented Reality Use Cases in Healthcare: AR Creating Impact in Healthcare

I’ve seen first-hand the advances of VR/AR in healthcare. The value these technologies bring to surgeries is not only cost reducing, but life saving and accessible to everyone. Society and hospitals are evolving, and so must the ways we treat illness. I believe that VR/AR can drive much of that change.” –  Dr Shafi Ahmed Advisor in Digital Health Transformation and Innovation, Department of Health Abu Dhabi

By blending the virtual and physical worlds, AR technology has the potential to revolutionise medical practices, improve patient outcomes, and enhance healthcare professionals’ capabilities. 

Here are the 9 use cases of Augmented Reality in healthcare, showcasing real-world examples and their potential impact on the industry.

1 – Surgical Planning and Navigation:

One of the most promising applications of AR in healthcare is in surgical planning and navigation. Surgeons can use AR overlays on patient scans to enhance their understanding of anatomical structures during complex procedures. 

For instance, AccuVein’s AR technology projects a real-time image of a patient’s veins onto their skin, aiding clinicians in locating veins for procedures like blood draws or IV insertions. This reduces complications, improves accuracy, and enhances patient comfort.

2 -Medical Education and Training:

AR has the potential to transform medical training by providing immersive and interactive experiences. Students and healthcare professionals can visualise complex medical concepts in 3D, allowing for better understanding and retention of information. 

For example – 

1- The HoloAnatomy app developed by Case Western Reserve University uses AR to create interactive holograms of human anatomy, enabling students to explore and interact with virtual anatomical structures.

2- Northeastern University students can quickly apply their skills in the real world as Mixed Reality Headsets cut training time by 83 percent helping students acquire the technique in just 30 minutes! 

3 – Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy:

AR can significantly enhance rehabilitation and physical therapy programs by creating engaging and personalised experiences for patients. Through AR, therapists can superimpose virtual objects or environments onto the real world to motivate patients and provide real-time feedback. 

For instance, the Jintronix platform combines motion sensors and AR technology to deliver interactive therapy exercises for stroke patients, improving their motor skills and speeding up recovery.

4 – Mental Health and Wellness:

Augmented reality also shows promise in the field of mental health and wellness. AR applications can simulate environments that help individuals manage anxiety, phobias, or post-traumatic stress disorders. 

For instance, Bravemind, developed by the University of Southern California, uses AR to recreate virtual scenarios for veterans with PTSD, allowing them to gradually confront and overcome their fears in a controlled and therapeutic environment.

5 – Remote Consultations and Telemedicine:

AR technology has the potential to revolutionise remote consultations and telemedicine by enabling healthcare professionals to virtually examine patients from a distance. With AR-enabled devices, doctors can superimpose medical data and patient information onto their field of view during a video call. This can enhance communication, facilitate accurate diagnoses, and streamline the remote healthcare process.

For example – 

1 – Mr. Sam Rajaratnam, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Schoen Clinic London who specialises in knee surgery, has access to the MR Solutions platform for orthopaedic procedures. Other surgeons will be able to see Mr. Rajaratnam virtually from the clinic, which will serve as a visiting centre.

2 – Another example is the Proximie platform, which allows surgeons to remotely collaborate, visualise patient-specific medical imaging, and provide real-time guidance during surgical procedures.

6 – Medical Device Visualization and Maintenance:

AR can assist healthcare professionals in visualising complex medical devices during maintenance and troubleshooting tasks. By superimposing virtual instructions or 3D models into real devices, AR enhances the efficiency and accuracy of maintenance procedures. 

For example, AccuVein’s AR technology mentioned earlier can also be used to help locate valves and other components in medical devices, making maintenance and repairs more efficient.

7 – Chronic Disease Management:

AR applications can support patients with chronic diseases by providing real-time information and guidance for self-care. AR-enabled devices can display vital signs, medication reminders, and personalised instructions for managing their condition. 

For instance, the AR-based app Peek Retina enables individuals to screen and monitor their eye health, empowering them to manage chronic eye conditions effectively.

8 – Accurate Medical Imaging 

Augmented Reality can enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of medical imaging techniques. By overlaying digital images onto a patient’s body, AR can help medical professionals precisely locate and analyse areas of interest. 

One example is the use of AR in mammography, where the technology superimposes three-dimensional reconstructions of breast tissue onto real-time mammograms, aiding radiologists in detecting and diagnosing breast cancer at an earlier stage.

9 – VR Surgical Guidance 

Augmented Reality offers surgeons valuable tools for surgical planning and guidance, enabling them to perform complex procedures with greater precision. By projecting holographic images of internal anatomy onto the patient’s body, AR can help visualise critical structures and aid in preoperative planning. 

When using augmented reality in the operating room, it’s like having a GPS navigator in front of your eyes in a natural way so you don’t have to look at a separate screen to see your patient’s CT scan,” says Timothy Witham, M.D., director of Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery.

From surgical planning and medical training to mental health and remote consultations, AR technology has the potential to improve patient outcomes, enhance medical education, and streamline healthcare processes. As technology continues to advance, augmented reality is paving the way for more immersive and efficient healthcare.

Most Impactful AR Trends in Healthcare Today

VR-trained surgeons are 230% more efficient at performing surgical procedures than traditionally trained specialists.” – Harvard Business Review

Augmented Reality has the potential to transform various industries, and healthcare is no exception. AR enhances healthcare professionals’ capabilities, improves patient outcomes, and enhances medical education and training. 

And above all, AR is the new trend in the medical field!!!

Let’s delve into the most impactful AR trends in healthcare today, highlighting their potential benefits and discussing their practical applications.

1 – Surgical Navigation and Augmented Diagnosis 

One of the most significant AR trends in healthcare is surgical navigation and Augmented Diagnosis. AR technologies offer surgeons real-time, 3D visualisations of a patient’s anatomy during surgery. This allows for precise navigation through complex anatomical structures, and proper diagnosis treatments which reduces the risk of errors and improves surgical outcomes. 

AR-guided surgical procedures have been successfully employed in various fields, such as neurosurgery, orthopaedics, and cardiac surgery. Surgeons can visualise critical information, such as blood vessels or tumour margins, directly on the patient’s body, facilitating more accurate and efficient surgeries.

2 – VR Surgical Training and Education

AR has revolutionised medical education and training by providing immersive and interactive learning experiences. Medical students can use AR applications to explore virtual anatomical models, enabling them to visualise complex structures in a dynamic and engaging manner. 

Moreover, AR can simulate surgical procedures, allowing trainees to practise surgical techniques in a safe and controlled environment. This technology bridges the gap between theory and practice, enhancing the skills and confidence of future healthcare professionals.

3 – Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy 

AR-based rehabilitation and physical therapy solutions have gained significant traction in recent years. By overlaying virtual objects or gamified elements onto the real world, AR can motivate patients during their recovery process. 

For instance, stroke patients can engage in interactive exercises that encourage the movement of impaired limbs. AR-based systems track and analyse patients’ movements, providing real-time feedback and progress monitoring. This not only accelerates the recovery process but also increases patient engagement and adherence to therapy.

4 – Telemedicine and Virtual Operating Theatres 

AR has the potential to revolutionise telemedicine by enabling remote assistance and virtual collaboration. Through AR-enabled smart glasses or mobile applications, healthcare professionals can provide real-time guidance and support to colleagues or patients in different locations. 

Specialists can virtually join a surgical procedure, offer guidance during emergency situations, or assist in diagnosing complex cases. This trend is particularly valuable in underserved areas where access to specialised care is limited, as it allows for the dissemination of expertise beyond geographical boundaries.

To cut the story short,  Augmented Reality is reshaping the healthcare landscape.

AR is enhancing surgical procedures, transforming medical education, improving rehabilitation and physical therapy, and enabling remote assistance. 

As AR technology continues to evolve, we can expect further advancements and wider adoption in healthcare. By harnessing the power of AR, healthcare professionals can unlock new possibilities and revolutionise the delivery of medical care in the 21st century.

Future of Augmented Reality in Healthcare 

In a highly complex medical operation that typically has a success record of less than 7%, two Brazilian twins with conjoined heads were recently successfully separated in Brazil utilising MR technology. And, the surgeons operating in Brazil were supervised by medical experts sitting in the UK in real-time using MR technology. 

What would the future look like when this AR technology will completely transform the medical industry? 

Let’s explore the exciting future of augmented reality in healthcare and its potential impact on the industry.

1 – AR in Surgical Procedures:

Augmented Reality will revolutionise surgical procedures by providing surgeons with real-time, interactive guidance during complex operations. By wearing AR-enabled glasses or using AR-enhanced displays, surgeons with overlaid patient data, such as scans and vital signs, onto their field of view, will have a lot better operation success rates. AR will help them visualise the patient’s anatomy in three dimensions, precisely plan incisions, and navigate complex structures with increased accuracy.

Moreover, AR will facilitate real-time collaboration between surgeons located in different parts of the world. By sharing their AR-enhanced view, experts will remotely guide less experienced surgeons during intricate procedures, expanding access to specialised care and improving patient outcomes.

2 – AR in Medical Education and Training:

Augmented Reality holds immense potential in medical education and training. And it will change the dynamics of medical healthcare. It will simulate medical scenarios and provide hands-on experiences without risk to patients. Medical students and residents will therefore be able to use AR applications and devices to practise surgical techniques, diagnose diseases, and interact with virtual patients.

AR will also enhance anatomy education by allowing students to visualise complex structures in 3D, overlaying digital information onto physical models or even the human body itself. This immersive learning experience will help students to grasp anatomical concepts more effectively and improve their diagnostic skills.

Furthermore, AR will provide real-time guidance and support during medical procedures, helping clinicians perform complex tasks with greater confidence and precision. By overlaying step-by-step instructions onto the surgical field, healthcare professionals will have access to vital information without distractions.

3 – AR in Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring:

Telemedicine has gained significant traction in recent years, and AR will further enhance its capabilities. By incorporating AR into telemedicine platforms, healthcare providers will be able to remotely examine patients, visualise their symptoms, and guide them through self-assessment procedures. This technology will allow for more accurate diagnoses and enable healthcare professionals to provide immediate care and treatment recommendations.

Augmented Reality will facilitate remote patient monitoring by overlaying real-time patient data, such as heart rate and oxygen levels, onto the clinician’s view. This will ultimately empower healthcare providers to closely monitor patients, identify anomalies, and intervene when necessary. Additionally, AR will also assist in medication management by overlaying medication instructions and reminders onto patients’ daily routines.

Final Words

The future of augmented reality in healthcare is incredibly promising. As technology continues to advance, it is essential for healthcare providers, researchers, and policymakers to collaborate and harness the full potential of augmented reality to improve patient outcomes and deliver more personalised and efficient healthcare services.

AR has the power to transform healthcare.

And just when you think that you don’t need AR, think of this – 

A UK-based AR company, Curiscope, has developed the ‘Virtuali-tee T-shirt’, an augmented reality T-shirt that allows you to view the inside of the human body as realistic holograms!!!


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