When we think of the healthcare practices in the future, a science fiction-inspired imagery of a robot performing complicated operations comes to mind. While this scenario is not entirely unfounded, the healthcare of the future will be slightly different than just robots with scalpels. For starters, it will involve a lot of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology.
According to sixsigmastudios.com, the current VR and AR market size is $16.8 billion worldwide and is expected to shoot up to $160 billion by 2023, according to Statista the statistical data giant. Many are positive virtual reality and augmented reality will transform the face of healthcare. The Deputy President of TechUK, Michael Keegan believes innovation and technology are wasted if not applied for the betterment of lives and has high hopes technology will revolutionize healthcare amongst other industries.
VR and AR came under the spotlight through the entertainment industry. It becomes hard to imagine how something so entertaining could be implemented in life-saving scenarios. The reality is that this is a highly versatile technology and can be applied anywhere depending on how skillful a VR design service is. Here are some top uses of VR and AR that we can expect to become mainstream in the future:
· Stress improvement
Stressed out or tensed patients can hinder important medical procedures and negatively affect them. Many little children, for example, develop phobias and irrational fears because of childhood incidents at a clinic or a hospital. Even after they reach adulthood, it can be hard to let go of phobias such as that of blood and needles. Only after therapy can these phobias be controlled.
VR can help prevent such traumatic experiences in the first place. During such stressful procedures, a VR headset with appropriate content can drastically transform the experience by helping patients calm down.
The helpful functions of VR are not limited to the doctor’s office only. Other healthcare authorities such as rehabs, therapists, and old homes can benefit as well. In living homes, for example, many residents are bound in place because of their health or physical disabilities. VR and AR can transform their surroundings and give them a respite from the monotony. Over time, this may contribute positively to health.
· Medical students
Traditional medical training involves operating on cadavers to get an idea of what real surgeries look like. Arranging cadavers and trying to teach a group of students through a single instructor at a time can be ineffective. Students who can only learn under individual attention face a great disadvantage in such scenarios. Medical scenarios created using VR can alleviate this problem. Top medical schools have already started to adopt VR and AR into their classrooms for improved student learning. Rare medical conditions that are hard to demonstrate can also be created virtually.
Another great application of AR could be recreating standard procedures in case of emergencies to help the student better prepare for the real event.
· Improved patient care
Gaps between patients and healthcare experts have always hindered doctors from having a true understanding of what the patient is going through. Many medical experts hope VR will be able to bridge this gap. Physically disabled patients such as those who have visual impairment may find it difficult to describe their condition to inexperienced doctors. This gap can be fulfilled by specially designed scenarios for VR. Doctors will be able to get invaluable insight into how a deaf or blind person’s condition is like and come up with diagnosis and prescriptions accordingly. Similarly, a handicapped person’s condition can also be replicated for greater understanding and empathy in the medical profession.
· Mental disorder diagnosis
One very important role this technology can play in healthcare is the early diagnoses of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. Trials for different conditions have already been carried out and the results so far have been positive. In Alzheimer’s for example, VR based navigation tests had a higher success rate as compared to the traditional tests used. In schizophrenia as well, a mirror game could potentially help in early diagnosis. If it is successful, VR would be a considerably cheaper option as compared to the standard tests.
· Surgery planning
Complicated surgeries require careful planning and execution. Even acclaimed surgeons with years of experience can sometimes make fatal mistakes if they are not careful. VR can greatly aid in the practice and planning of such surgeries. A virtual 3D model that surgeons can interact with would enable them to better identify intricacies and potential problems.
Surgery planning could also be greatly improved through virtual charts that keep on updating the doctor on the client’s vitals. This way the surgical process, as well as planning, would be greatly streamlined.