How Augmented Reality Advances the Healthcare Industry

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Augmented Reality (AR) is best known in videogames like Ingress, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and of course, Pokemon Go. Industries like architecture, engineering, and education also leverage AR. 

But the most crucial use of AR today is in the medical field. Healthcare workers use it to do their jobs more efficiently, train future healthcare workers, and help patients find the best medical care. Here are ways AR is changing the medical world. 

Medical Equipment Locator

If AR can be used to find a digital Pikachu in the real world, why not use it to find essential services like hospitals and defibrillators? 

The AED4EU, an app designed by researchers in the Netherlands, helps people find and locate the nearest AED or Automated External Defibrillator. The app is currently only available in Europe, but app agencies in cities like Miami, New York, and Los Angeles are working on perfecting similar AR systems. 

Pretty soon, we’ll be seeing AR apps that will help you find and locate the nearest hospitals, clinics, and even private practice doctors. 

Virtual Health Care Training

Virtual reality training is already fairly standard for most students taking up medicine, but this usually involves bulky and expensive VR equipment. Yes, it’s useful, but also not that accessible. 

Enter, AR. 

Combined with the right equipment, AR can be the answer to accessible training for future healthcare professionals without sacrificing educational quality. An excellent example of this is AccuVein, a handheld scanner used to project a ‘map’ of the veins in a specific area.  It’s been so successful that doctors around the world have started investing in vein scanning technology to demonstrate hospital processes and treatments to healthcare workers. The medical teaching staff is also looking at it to train would-be doctors and nurses, and improve health care for patients. 

AR-Assisted Surgery

ongoing surgery operation

Projecting a digital mock-up of a person’s vital organs, blood pathways, and other internal components over their real bodies may sound like science fiction, but it’s science fact. This year, doctors performed the first AR-assisted surgery in the world. Using specialized equipment that acted like ‘X-ray glasses’, doctors were able to re-sect and reposition a patient’s jawbone. 

Normally, this procedure would require an external TV set where doctors can monitor a patient’s vital stats. However, using the revolutionary Video-Optical See-Through AR Surgical System (VOSTARS), pertinent info projected on a headset allowed doctors to see. It allowed them to focus on the operation without needing to look back to a TV screen every so often. 

Equipment like the VOSTARS, along with other revolutionary scanning equipment, can help doctors ‘see’ into their patients while performing operations, allowing them to access the right veins and organs.

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