Although virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are buzzwords associated with video games, they are becoming a game-changer in healthcare.
AR creates a digital overlay in the real world, and VR can create a fictional world through video and graphics. AR/VR has already been instrumental in enriching sensory learning for children with autism and improving vision and chronic pain in a variety of patients. In fact, the medical VR market was projected to generate $8.9 million in 2017 and grow to $285 million in 2022.
With value-based care becoming a hot button topic, VR has the capability to really enrich the patient experience. According to Dr. Felix Matthews in an article in HealthTech, “We’re seeing a shift away from using technology to advance specialty care and high-tech medicine and a shift toward using technology to enable prevention and primary care.”
Many hospitals and health systems are still finding ways to incorporate VR into their programs; this immersive technology’s capabilities seem almost limitless. So, what are we looking forward to most in 2020? Below, we have highlighted four ways that VR will enhance medicine this year.
Improving surgical training
Building a good foundation of surgical training is integral. Surprisingly, a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that 30% of surgeons couldn’t operate independently after residency. Thankfully, there might be a way to help decrease that statistic.
AR/VR can create environments that mimic real-life practice settings. These simulations help facilitate learning experiences without the pressure of an actual emergency. Additionally, they can improve surgical practice by allowing students to walk through steps multiple times and weigh different outcomes on a trial and error basis. A clinical validation study at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine found that VR training on the Osso VR platform improved participants’ overall surgical performance by 230% compared with traditional training methods. By enhancing the practice environments to feel even more realistic, students will be better prepared, which ultimately leads to better patient outcomes.
Patients living in underserved areas often still require the help of a specialist. Thankfully, telehealth is available at many facilities and allows a broader patient population reach. The development of AR/VR can enhance their experience and vastly improve the doctor/patient interaction. This development can help provide real-time data related to treatment and can help provide medical insight and access for caretakers. Increased communication is key in the changing healthcare landscape, especially with its consumer focus.
Reducing the use of opioids
We have already seen the benefits of AR/VR for pain management, but in 2020 we hope to see those benefits explode. Unfortunately, each day over 130 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose. As the medical industry embraces AR/VR, one specific target is to harness the powerful technology to help reduce the necessity for opioids in pain management to combat the opioid crisis.
Increasing patient comprehension
The fourth area of growth is to help empower patients to advocate for their own care. By supporting wearable devices that record health data, artificial intelligence is providing a lot of powerful predictive results. However, there are still barriers between physicians and their patients.
AR/VR can help patients better visualize and understand what their bodies face during a complicated procedure or recovery process. In turn, this knowledge will help patients become better advocates for their own care and help strengthen their relationships with their clinicians.
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