When it comes to augmented reality, although I can admit to being sucked into the Pokemon Go craze when it first came out, my main interest is in how it can be used to help people, rather than just for entertainment. Here I have taken a look at the various ways augmented reality can be integrated into medicine, to improve the experience for both doctor and patient.
Getting your blood taken is an everyday medical task, but for people who don’t like needles, it can be a scary ordeal. For some who have smaller veins like children or the elderly, the experience can consist of getting prodded and poked in multiple attempts to find the vein, which is pretty unpleasant. An AR solution to this issue is to provide nurses with smart glasses which map out veins on their patient’s arm. As the veins are now visible, they are more accessible, making the nurse’s job easier and the patient’s arm less like a pincushion.
AR companies have developed portable ultrasound machines with the images accessed through augmented reality. If a doctor was travelling to a developing country to provide medical assistance, this technology would mean an ultrasound scan could be given any time, anywhere, with the images accessed on demand through smart glasses. Where accessibility, time and funds are low, this would be the perfect technology to provide vital scans to the masses where the technology wouldn’t usually be available.
Augmented reality could be a revelation for surgery, allowing surgeons to access in depth data, before, during and after surgery.
New augmented reality systems currently in discussion will allow surgeons to interact with model organs, bones and body parts which, through augmented reality, can be adapted to be exact replicas of a particular patient. This system allows surgeons to view different surgery options of how that individual’s body may react to surgery. This type of technology can not only be used for pre-surgery to view options of what is best for each patient but also to test out what might happen to the patient’s body after long term effect of medication. Augmented reality allows medical professionals a much more in depth view into their patient than they ever have before, allowing them to see into the future of the patient and make decisions accordingly.Augmented reality allows medical professionals a much more in depth view into their patient than they ever have before, allowing them to see into the future of the patient and make decisions accordingly.Click To Tweet
Augmented reality can not only be of great help pre-surgery but can also be utilised during surgery. An Israeli company, Augmedics, have created a technology for spinal surgery, in which surgeons wear a head-mounted display that allows them to view ‘inside’ the patient as though they had x-ray vision. This allows the internal spinal information to be displayed at all times, meaning more direct and accurate incisions and surgery can be made. As open spine surgery is no longer done, this virtual image is vital to the accuracy of keyhole spinal surgery. The result of a less invasive surgery means more accuracy, less medical mistakes, shorter recovery time for the patient and a shorter hospital stay.
MedTech is the revolution that the medical industry has been waiting for, and can make it a transformative experience for both patients and medical professionals. AR, the technology mostly associated with catching imaginary creatures, could actually save lives.