Some time ago, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) were exclusively dedicated to the gaming industry. In 2021, both VR and AR are experiencing deep interest from various sectors, including healthcare. Visual aids, AR and VR, therapeutic and educational, are fully poised to play a central role in more aspects of care delivery.
More and more healthcare companies are always ready with results to strengthen their digital solutions with VR and AR technologies for robust data analysis and healthcare practices. By implementing these technologies, some companies have found new ways to establish connections with their patients at the time of the epidemic, providing remote and personal care. While others use VR and AR to improve medical training or prepare them for activities prior to surgery.
Although, VR and AR app development companies are not yet common to most healthcare facilities and clinics worldwide. Will VR and AR be widely disseminated in health and medicine? And what is the future for technologies in these areas? In this article, we focus on the practices of using virtual and augmented realities in the medical field and healthcare and explore the potential of VR and AR in the industry.
Estimating the AR-VR Opportunities
Before we dive into the VR and AR opportunities both technologies offer in the medical and healthcare sectors, let’s define how they differ. Augmented Reality app development is a technology that allows the laying of some information, video, and graphics on devices smarter than reality. Therefore, this technology enhances the real world, adding additional data to it. The most prevalent examples of AR are IKEA Place App, L’Oreal Makeup App, Pokémon Go etc and many more.
Virtual reality (VR) is a fake reality created by computer technology when a person is completely immersed in a digital environment. The most widespread examples of VR are VR chats, Volvo test drive reality, Yosemite National Park for the North Face for hiking experience, and a vast number of VR games.
Here are some examples of using VR and AR in health and medicine, which are as follows:
- Medical Training – Medical students, doctors or surgeons can learn how to treat their patients better or perform complex operations without risking any surgery mistakes.
- Robotic Surgery – When robotic devices perform surgery by performing high precision operations controlled by a human surgeon with VR technology.
- Physiotherapy – VR helps patients ease high pain levels and ensures faster recovery while performing physical therapy.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Treatment – When a person is placed in an environment with a painful condition and tries to find a solution and overcome the crisis situation.
- Anxiety, Fear & Depression Treatment – Patients can use VR for meditation or relaxation in a safe environment provided by VR.
- Emergency Treatment – Medical centers, pharmacies, and other healthcare facilities can be found with layered AR maps of people in reality.
- Personalized Approach To Patients – VR and AR can help doctors better explain to their patients how their operations will be performed or what steps a patient should take to be more effective.
Medical Immersion for a Range of VR Patient Need
The augmented reality app development sector is easily accessible which is most easily accessible to both consumers and companies. Mobile AR apps are created on phones and tablet platforms, which appear as holograms with AR content on the screen. Healthcare companies effectively involve their customers in healthcare related activities by using VR and AR technologies to improve their customers’ experiences. In ophthalmology, health specialists can provide their patients with an app that stimulates the vision of a patient’s specific conditions, such as cataract or AMD, and others. In this way, patients can better understand the problem and become actively involved in their treatment.
At times of epidemics, VR and AR technologies can be used for better self-diagnosis. This is particularly valuable in remote areas where visiting clinics are challenging and people have to use telehealth services instead. Better self-diagnosis with AR provides a better overview – if a person needs a check-up and treatment in a hospital or the condition can be treated at home.
Apart from this, VR and AR-based apps in isolation are used for self-directed treatment. For example, addressing chronic pain, doing meditation sessions to relieve anxiety, or planning recovery of joint disease exercise. Now, patients who have survived brain injuries and strokes may undergo rehabilitation in a gamified approach. This makes patients more pleasant and better in therapy.
Virtual reality app development has been started for the educational sectors. In order to make the teaching experience exciting and more attractive, the institute uses virtual reality applications. Another implementation of augmented reality in healthcare for mass use is providing people with information about the location of healthcare facilities. Using AR Maps, users can define where the nearest clinics or other healthcare institutions are in an unknown area. AR Map saves time spent searching for these features, which can be life saving in case of emergency. For example, if a person needs emergency assistance due to heart failure, the AR map will show where the nearest automated external defibrillators are located.
AR and VR Preparation & Efficiency for Surgery
Doctors and healthcare specialists also benefit from VR and AR technologies using them in operating rooms and classrooms. For example, before performing an operation, surgeons may use VR and AR techniques to walk through organs that need to operate or visualize 3-D models of challenging surgical cases. In addition, 3-D organ models can be used in conferences, for example, in the learning process, or to explain to patients what is going to happen during surgery and what the consequences will be.
Forby, VR and AR technologies serve to ensure a more personalized approach in healthcare. By studying how their patients ‘organs work and how they react to a certain treatment, doctors can twin their patients’ digital organs and perform more tests for them. This combination of clinical expertise and VR technology has been successful in providing personalized treatment for each patient, which has also guaranteed their faster and better recovery.
Disparities to Expand VR Programs in Healthcare
VR and AR technologies are a rapidly growing market. According to Allied Market Research, virtual reality in the healthcare market is expected to grow to $ 2.4 billion by 2026. Despite this, VR technology today faces some challenges for its widespread application. The main issue is limited access to high-speed networks, such as 5G, and low usage of 5G devices.
VR and AR are still at the level of their use in most health care companies and medical institutions. However the increasing interest in using these technologies in the health industry stimulated their rapid development and widespread implementation. Companies that ignore this fact may face challenges in providing effective services in the future and will ultimately lag behind the competition.
Virtual and augmented realities are gaining popularity in healthcare and medicine. They are already able to provide high quality support to doctors and medical specialists in treating the patient and educate health care consumers to take better care of their health.
Although both technologies are in their early stages of adoption in healthcare, many businesses are investing heavily in this market. Companies that realize the disruptive potential of these technologies are already exploring their VR and AR development companies with VR and AR technologies to build their own healthcare digital solutions.