Augmenting Experiences Beyond Reality

Author: Suchi Yadav


Business Advisor – Retail

There have been some of the greatest technological advancements in past 25 years, from CT scans to wearable devices which have fundamentally changed the way patients are diagnosed and treated. Dramatic improvements have been there, the way medical practitioners are trained and educated. Augmented reality is a new technology that is transforming learning through augmented experiences, drastically.

Augmenting Real Environments

Unlike Virtual Reality, AR does not take you into a completely different environment, in fact, Augmented Reality ‘Augments’ the real-world objects with images, videos or graphics. Due to this, there are wide possibilities of acceptance of augmented reality in HealthCare industry practices. Augmented Reality has immense potential to transform medical practices, providing augmented visuals and experiences over real-life environments during complicated clinical operations and processes or supporting aftercare and medical administration. We have just begun to scratch the surface of Augmented Reality’s potential benefits to our health and well-being.

AR is a technology that adds value to the real world by overlaying and displaying real-time digital information and media, such as videos, 3D modeling, via camera view of your smartphone, tablet or via wearable devices. Therefore, AR can deliver hand on experience to product unboxing that would help to gain knowledge on any particular treatment or surgery.

Enhancing Critical Experiences

Where previously surgeries required monitors in the operating room to display vital statistics and images being delivered by an endoscopic camera, thanks to AR technology that a surgeon can now wear smart glasses during the process which can reduce mistakes done, due to multitasking at one go. Not only doctors but patient’s education is equally important for effective treatments and prevention of a disease. AR apps can be used to better illustrate the impact of the particular disease, and it’s observed that a multi-sensory experience can be actually more effective in transmitting information. These apps can also be used to educate family members and caretakers to better understand consequences of a particular condition, by making their contribution to the well-being of their loved ones more effective than ever before.

Not only practitioners and patients but also medical students can be benefitted by this technology. AR technology allows training to be more interactive by helping trainees to quickly join the dots from the theory of their books to real-life consequences. For instance, AR apps can be used to overlay and display anatomical information on a 3D printed human skeleton, by offering a better understanding of human body. Instead of viewing 2D illustration of a human heart, by simply placing an AR app over the specific page in the book, it would transform into a beating heart, with more detail than a simple diagram. The accessibility of this kind of technology can make a huge difference to the standard of medical education across the globe.

Similarly, being able to follow a real surgery from viewpoint of surgeon on a handheld device such a tablet or smartphone is much more effective than a medical simulator. If AR technology can be useful in minimal surgeries than it can also work effectively in complex surgeries. It would be more useful for surgeons to access information quickly without having to shift their attention from the patient receiving the treatment. Vital statistics can be put near their eye line so that they operate without being distracted. It can also work effectively by overlaying CT scans or enlarged 3D version onto a patient’s body. This will give more accurate visual information and real-time data to the diagnosis.

AR can also help in detecting some disease like skin cancer, in which it can monitor and catch issues that can be solved in the early stage to cure or prevent cancer. Also, individuals having another type of skin disease can be cured by continuous treatment for the same.

Interactive Learning Practices

Pharma companies can also make good use of AR technology to educate their patients and sales rep about side effects and effectiveness of the medicine. AR can be a great tool for communication as it would allow accessing the information of medicine like compositions, benefits, and side effects into a 3D model to better understand their configuration. Therefore, med reps would need not to carry any brochures or catalog to present it to practitioners, as it can be accessed through their smartphones.  Along with that, patients can also see how the drug can work in 3D instead of reading information in the bottle. Lab workers can also monitor their reports using AR technologies.

Augmented Reality applications are among most exciting and ground-breaking technologies available today and the potential of medical application is staggering. By using this technology, patients and doctors can make more informed healthcare decisions, leading to a better standard of care and quality of life.

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