The world as we know it is changing. And whether it’s how we work, play or socialise, technology has become an integral part of how we go about our day-to-day lives.
In healthcare, where there’s a pressing need for accurate, representative and intelligent data, technology has made huge strides to advance strategies and practices. And now, with the immergence of extended reality (XR), the impossible is now very much possible.
But before we go any further, let’s clarify the term extended reality. At it’s core, it’s an umbrella that applies to all other technologies – namely virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (XR).
Within the healthcare industry, it’s technology in its early days but nonetheless, already transforming how industry workers perform their day-to-day roles.
Benefits of using extended reality in healthcare
With XR rapidly developing as an immerging technology, its presence in healthcare has already paved the way for a more efficient, productive and advanced industry – and here’s how.
Visualizing medical data
Through the use of AR, digital images and information can be overlaid on a real-world view to help patients, nurses and surgeons better understand different types of anatomical data.
Few people enjoy a hospital or clinical setting. But through the power of a VR headset, patients can be whisked away to an immerse environment far away from the operating table. Whether it’s before, during or after a treatment, virtual reality can be used to reduce anxiety, pain and all other emotions conjured by the thought of invasive surgery.
It’s without question mindfulness and meditation has positive effects on mental health. When combining its soothing qualities with the power of VR, the whole experience becomes even more immersive. Whether you want to unwind on a beach, deep in the forest landscape, the peak of a mountain or any other simulated scenario, VR offers an instant getaway for relaxation and rejuvenation at its virtually-enhanced finest.
Enhanced medical education
Across hundreds of educational institutions, virtual reality offers an immersive learning platform for the next generation of medical health professionals.
Through 3D simulation, students can learn about the composition of the human body as well as practice any medical procedure without the risk of causing harm to a real-life patient. What’s more, the versatility of VR means medical faculties can create bespoke virtual training exercises and experiences which seamlessly integrates and supports curriculum content.
Examples of XR being used in healthcare today
Extended reality is already proving monumental within the healthcare industry. Whether its in hospitals, private clinics or educational settings, its integration has improved quality of service, patient experience and knowledge of healthcare professionals across the world. Here are some real-life examples of its application.
Vein visualisation global leaders, AccuVein, are already underway with integrating AR in healthcare. Through their technology, a map of veins is overlaid on a patient’s body to help health professionals find veins quicker and easier. Evidence shows the vein visualisation technology has helped clinicians find veins with up to 98 percent more accuracy.
At St George’s Hospital, London, adult patients scheduled for medical procedures under regional aesthetic were given the option to use a VR headset during their operation. Unsurprisingly, 94% of patients who used the headset said they felt calmer, and 80% reported they felt less pain during their operation. A win for VR by any measure.
In Brazil, a team of technologists helped children beat their fear of vaccines through the immersive power of VR. The project, VR Vaccine, takes the children on a virtual adventure, during which a real-life nurse synchronises the action of administering an injection with what’s happening in the story. Ultimately, it’s an approach based on distraction which recognises children feared the needle rather than any potential pain caused when administered. The project was so successful that Brazilian pharmacy chain, Hermes Pardini, have now installed VR units in all their pharmacies.
Though it’s still relatively early days, the integration of extended reality has, without question, already transformed the healthcare space for patients and medical professionals. By forcing us to think differently about traditional beliefs and practices in healthcare, the acceptance of immersive technologies has improved patient experiences, decreased running costs and enhanced medical results – and still is more to come.
What’s more, with a growing global population and people generally living longer, any advances – technology or otherwise, that relieves pressure on our healthcare services is a wise investment by any metric. And as extended reality continues to grow in healthcare, it’s exciting to see what happens next.
If you’d like to learn more about extended reality (XR) or want to demo how our technology can help your business, feel free to get in touch today.