With over 171 million virtual reality users worldwide, the metaverse is becoming inevitable. While it’s scary for some and exciting for others, augmented reality opens up new and valuable opportunities for many, including the healthcare industry. Demand in every aspect is growing and the healthcare market is on board for the ride.
Virtual and augmented reality can improve patient care, training and education, medical and health management, and much more. There are opportunities for growth in every aspect of healthcare in this growing market that is expected to reach approximately 43 billion by 2028.
If you’re not a part of or thinking of becoming a part of this leading market trend in healthcare and medicine, you might be missing out on a rather large opportunity for growth in your sector. Where virtual and augmented reality is improving patient care, they’re also stepping in to improve medical advancement and knowledge. Continue reading below to find out more about these “alternate” reality worlds and how they are constantly improving the healthcare industry.
What is the Difference Between Virtual and Augmented reality?
Virtual reality is a three-dimensional world created by computer technology. Users wear a headset or goggles to immerse themselves in the virtual environment.
Virtual reality can enable people to interact with artificial sequences and stimulants while in the virtual world, but their body is still physically in the real world, right where they put the goggles or headset on.
People are using virtual reality for gaming, work meetings, sports training, and more importantly for enhancing and improving healthcare production.
Augmented reality combines the real world with an interactive environment. A good example of augmented reality is the famous Pokémon Go mobile phone application game that was released in 2016.
Augmented reality allows users to stay in their physical environment and see the real world while also seeing an artificial world through your screen.
Augmented reality is used for gaming, medical training, retail, and design.
Both virtual and augmented reality are beneficial in the healthcare industry and have their advantages.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Healthcare
VR is being used by companies to stimulate and promote to others what it’s like to live with certain conditions that can be hard to explain at the best of times. Conditions like macular degeneration, partial blindness, and hearing loss can all be experienced through an interactive VR headset.
Here are some of the top VR and AR companies in healthcare and what they’re doing to improve medicine:
FundamentalVR allows surgeons to rehearse complex surgeries through the virtual world before performing them in the physical world. This helps to increase the success rate of the surgery by increasing the surgeon’s knowledge of the procedure and reducing any possible errors.
The first and main focus of OxfordVR is to treat and relieve symptoms in patients with mental disorders and phobias.
Augmedics has successfully created an augmented reality system that can guide surgeons more accurately in their surgeries using 3D technology that allows the surgeon to see through a monitor as though they have x-ray vision.
Brain Power is an augmented reality system that works alongside Google Glass and is designed to teach children and adults with autism certain life skills they might not be able to learn from adults and therapists. They offer social skills, language development, and positive behaviors as well as collect data and analytics so therapists can keep track of progress and feedback.
What Opportunities for Growth do AR and VR Provide in Healthcare?
Where VR and AR are changing the world, it’s also changing the world of medicine and treatment practices from therapy, surgery, mental healthcare, rehabilitation, and beyond.
Doctors are gaining further knowledge while students are being provided with real-life-like scenarios to gain a better understanding of what they’re studying and how they can become the best in their field.
There are numerous opportunities for growth in the virtual world but the top opportunities are listed for you below:
Through medical training, marketing, and raising awareness, VR is enhancing new revenue growth opportunities along with reducing consumer and patient treatment costs while also increasing reimbursements.
Awareness, education, and surgical planning
Medical training is imperative and it’s also time-consuming as well as sometimes out of reach. Providing efficient training through VR and AR is one of the highest growth opportunities for the healthcare industry in AR and VR technology.
Through providing these AR and VR solutions in medicine and treatment awareness, healthcare professionals all over the world are gaining valuable knowledge and training in further medical education.
By using a VR headset or sensory gloves, doctors, trainees, and other healthcare professionals, including those in university study to become surgeons, dentists, etc., can gain a lot of experience and knowledge from the fully immersive virtual world. Although it is virtual, the experience is extremely life-like and provides a real-life environment for students to learn in.
Stimulation and mental health treatment
Anxiety, depression, and neurological disorders are becoming more common every day. Over 40 million American adults alone are diagnosed with anxiety while almost 1 billion people globally have been diagnosed with a neurological disorder like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and migraines.
VR technology is an effective treatment, or rehabilitation method, for neurological disorders as it can improve memory function and attention as well as strengthen your brain waves to reduce symptoms of depression and ADHD.
Unfortunately, good therapists aren’t always available, and some therapies just don’t work. This is where VR comes in, at least for anxiety and depression patients, because it can essentially take people out of the environment they feel stressed in and place them somewhere else completely.
In aged care, for example, where depression is the most common psychiatric disorder, VR and AR treatments can have extremely positive effects. A study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab found that the elderly are more positive about their health and emotions when they used a VR device.
Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) studies have shown proven results that VR can reduce PTSD symptoms in soldiers and other PTSD victims.
Patients with psychiatric illnesses caused by trauma can be helped immensely through the use of VR and AR implementation in therapy.
Patient treatment and pain management
Complex operations have been done in hospitals and surgeries for centuries, the success rates have, of course, changed over time and are better now than they ever have been thanks to technology. Thanks again to technology, VR to be more precise, surgeons now have the opportunity to complete complex operations through the virtual world before operating physically on their patients.
Having the ability to rehearse surgeries ahead of time can reduce the failure rate drastically and maximize the safety of the patient.
VR is also being developed into robotics that can assist surgeons and doctors with positioning cameras, mirrors, and necessary medical tools for operations and procedures.
VR has also been found helpful in severe pain relief for patients who have suffered an ordeal amount of pain. VR can help sufferers with their recovery process as well as their physical therapy.
VR and AR aren’t the future of healthcare, they are already the present and leading advancement technology in healthcare and it’s only growing more every day.
With the use of virtual and augmented technology, healthcare improvements are inevitable. VR and AR can save lives, improve doctor knowledge, enhance training and education for students, and provide a safer, more reliable environment for patients. Technology like this is changing healthcare for the better.