Picture a world where doctors can visualize complex medical procedures in 3D, medical students can practice surgeries without touching a scalpel, and patients can find comfort in immersive virtual environments during their treatments. This future is becoming a reality, thanks to the remarkable advancements in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies.

Did you know that by 2027, the global AR & VR in the healthcare industry could reach a staggering USD 11.92 billion? This underlines the transformative potential of AR and VR in changing the way we approach healthcare.

Read our blog, 5 Important Breakthroughs In Healthcare Tech

In this article, we will explore the advantages of using AR & VR technology in the healthcare industry and understand AR & VR applications in healthcare.

Understanding AR & VR

Augmented Reality (AR) takes our real world and adds digital information on top of it. It blends virtual elements with what we see, creating an interactive and special experience. On the other hand, Virtual Reality (VR) creates a whole new digital environment that completely immerses us, making us feel like we're experiencing real-world situations, often through the use of headsets or special devices.

Before stepping into AR & VR in Healthcare industry, have a look at our blog, Top 5 VR and AR Trends 2023

Benefits of Using AR and VR Technologies in the Healthcare Industry

AR and VR technologies are changing healthcare, providing many benefits for medical professionals, patients, and the overall healthcare ecosystem. Let's explore 6 key advantages of using AR and VR in healthcare:

Enhanced medical training

There are many advantages of using AR and VR technology in medical education. These technologies offer immersive and interactive environments for medical training, allowing healthcare professionals to practice complex procedures and scenarios in a safe setting. AR & VR also help medical students gain hands-on experience, which improves their skills, confidence, and decision-making abilities.

According to a study, students with immersive VR-based training perform 18% to 43% faster compared to others. This proves that AR & VR-based training is more engaging, effective, and accessible.

Advanced visualization and diagnosis

Technologies like AR and VR also help in medical imaging and diagnostics by providing advanced visualization. By overlaying patient data with real-time imagery, healthcare professionals can gain deeper insights for accurate diagnoses. Moreover, these technologies facilitate collaboration among multidisciplinary teams, allowing better decision-making and treatment planning.

Improved patient experiences

Improving patient outcomes with AR & VR in healthcare is now easier than ever. These technologies help you create virtual environments that transport patients to serene landscapes or engaging activities, improving their hospital experiences. These immersive experiences distract patients from pain and anxiety, making their stays more comfortable.

One of the benefits of Augmented Reality in healthcare is that it can help patients understand their medical conditions and treatment plans better, allowing them to make informed decisions. Additionally, VR therapies reduce pain perception, manage anxiety, and help in rehabilitation.

In fact, research has shown that on average, 33% of patients experience complete pain relief using VR-based therapy. What's even more impressive is that every single patient involved in the research reported some reduction in pain levels.

Expanded access to care

With AR and VR technologies, you can expand access to healthcare services, particularly in remote areas. Telemedicine and virtual consultations allow healthcare providers to reach patients with limited access to medical facilities.

AR technologies allow real-time collaboration among specialists, regardless of location. And on the other hand, one of the many roles of virtual reality in the healthcare industry is to provide virtual therapy sessions and provide mental health support from home.

Better surgical precision and safety

AR and VR technologies significantly improve surgical precision and safety. By using these technologies, surgeons can access real-time, three-dimensional visualizations of the patient's anatomy during surgery.

This allows for better precision and surgical accuracy. Surgeons can also visualize critical structures and identify potential risks before making incisions, reducing the chances of complications.

Healthcare system efficiency and workflow optimization

AR and VR technologies can enhance the efficiency of healthcare systems and optimize workflows. For example, AR headsets can overlay patient information and medical records in real-time, reducing the need for manual searching and streamlining the documentation process. In fact, as per a report, healthcare providers using AR-assisted diagnostics experienced an 80% decrease in patient wait times.

Also, one of the benefits of virtual reality in healthcare is that it can be used for virtual tour simulations of healthcare facilities, helping administrators optimize layouts and improve patient flow. All in all, these technologies can contribute to better resource allocation, reduce administrative burdens, and improve overall healthcare system efficiency.

AR & VR Applications in Healthcare

The possibilities of AR & VR in healthcare are endless. Let's explore some key areas where these technologies are making a significant impact and how:

Surgical planning and simulations

At Galilee Medical Center, the doctors took a CT scan of the patient's body part that required surgery and used the data to create a 3D-printed titanium implant. During the surgery, the doctor wore a HoloLens, a device connected to modeling software, which provided a virtual model for real-time guidance during the placement of the implant. This method significantly reduced the surgery time to 90 minutes.

Medical education and training

There are many benefits of virtual reality in healthcare - one of them being medical education and training. A company named Osso VR developed VR surgical simulations, using which medical students can now engage in realistic virtual simulations that replicate surgical scenarios.

This allows them to perform procedures, develop critical skills, and make informed decisions in a safe environment. These virtual training programs bridge the gap between theory and practice, allowing future healthcare professionals to be better prepared and more competent when entering the real operating room.

Patient experiences and therapeutic interventions

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center implemented VR distraction therapy for patients undergoing painful procedures, resulting in reduced pain levels and increased comfort. Patients immersed themselves in virtual environments that transported them to calming landscapes or engaging activities, effectively diverting their attention from pain and anxiety.

This reduced their pain levels by up to 24%, proving that the role of virtual reality in the healthcare industry holds huge potential.

Enhanced visualization and medical imaging

Making use of one of the many benefits of augmented reality in healthcare, AccuVein created an AR technology to help healthcare professionals locate veins for blood draws and injections. In fact, this technology can improve the accuracy by 98%.

This technology makes identifying the veins easier, even in challenging cases. This results in fewer needle sticks and reduced patient discomfort during procedures like blood draws and intravenous injections.

The future of AR & VR in healthcare holds a lot of potential. From stress management and exercise programs to vision loss and speech therapy, these technologies are set to transform the healthcare industry.

All in all, as we witness the exponential growth of AR and VR, we can look forward to a future where technology and human expertise come together to create a healthcare system that is more efficient, effective, and compassionate.