The Reality Technology Epidemic
The Reality Technology Epidemic and Why We Should All Catch It
How AR and VR are changing the face of medicine
What an exciting time to be alive! Recent generations have seen an exciting array of advances in technology that have infiltrated almost every aspect of the way we live, think, and interact with the world.
Technology can make our lives more convenient and connected. It can also make our businesses far more innovative. If you’re in the healthcare field, you likely appreciate technology since it is the driving force behind healthcare innovation. Over the years, technology has improved the way we understand, diagnose, and treat medical conditions. It has also influenced the way we practice and market medical services.
We all care about healthcare!
One of the most exciting things about the healthcare industry is its essentialness. We all need healthcare and we all want to improve the way healthcare functions. That’s why future advancements in healthcare technology are so exciting to contemplate. We think that some of the most interesting healthcare innovations will rely on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
AR and VR comprise what are known as “reality technologies.” They alter the way we perceive and interact with the world – or reality – around us. In our previous article we’ve explained how beneficial can be these new technologies in the educational field. In the medical field, these technologies have a unique opportunity to create revolutionary change. According to healthcareglobal.com, “The global market for augmented and virtual reality within the healthcare industry is forecast to exceed $3bn by 2023.”
The future of healthcare innovation is here.
Let’s take a look at 6 of the most exciting uses for AR and VR in the medical field.
AR and VR can be used in a variety of ways to relieve chronic pain in physical therapy patients. According to realitytechnologies.com, amputees often feel a phenomenon called Phantom Limb Pain (PLP), in which their brain still processes pain from a missing limb. This can be frustrating for patients with no way to relieve the pain. VR offers a way to enter a simulated environment in which they can see and interact with their missing limb. It has been proven to release muscle tension and relieve the brain-body connection that causes PLP. What’s more, AR can also be used to create the visual of the missing limb in real time, allowing the patient’s brain to perceive the appendage and release pain.
Cost-Saving Equipment Maintenance
The cost to repair complex medical equipment and to hire capable repair technicians is a major expense for hospitals and medical facilities. Through AR, however, visual instructions for maintenance can be displayed through a device on-site, meaning that it will be easier and more affordable than ever for equipment to be maintained and repaired by non-professionals.
Long-Distance Surgery and Emergency Care
Current surgical practices are performed by the surgeons that are on hand. However, technologies are being developed that allow surgeons to operate virtually on patients through a complex VR device and the use of haptic gloves. This means that top surgeons can perform procedures without having to leave their office or fly across country. Similarly, in-flight and other remote emergencies may be more easily dealt with using reality technologies.
Designing an Optimal Healthcare Practice
For those of you operating your own practice, you know how essential it is to provide patients with both a welcoming and functional environment. Imagine being able to virtually design your own offices and see them in real time, through a VR headset, before ever having to place a single chair or piece of equipment. According the techrepublic.com, this technology is already available. With the ability to walk through a virtual space and interact with the simulated environment, doctors will be able to create the ideal functional space for both themselves and their patients.
Improved Medical Training
VR opens a world of opportunity in simulated training. Medical students of tomorrow will be able to perform a variety of real-life functions without the risk associated with performing on actual patients. There is a cost consideration here, too, as VR simulations can be much cheaper than setting up lab scenarios or utilizing actual hospital equipment. The variety of programs and scenarios available virtually can be vast, meaning that a VR program of study will complement any reality-setting training a student receives.
We can also speculate that AR and VR will soon be a built-in feature in the eyewear we wear on a daily basis. Not only will AR and VR-assisted training be more comprehensive, but well-trained medical professionals will yield better outcomes once they begin actively practicing medicine in an age that relies on reality technologies.
Technology improves the way we communicate by offering immediate and comprehensive access to the people and information we need, when we need them. For patients, it can be lifesaving to reach a medical professional in a timely and efficient manner.
For doctors, it can be equally beneficial to use devices such as Google Glass to conduct remote patient consultations and see first-hand what a patient is seeing and describing. According to Forbes.com, “companies like Google and Apple are acquiring health tech companies and fine-tuning their own platforms for smart glasses and other personal mobile diagnostic devices like blood glucose monitors.” All of this would allow patients to monitor their health and doctors to diagnose problems without ever having to leave the home or office.