The practical application of Augmented Reality in Healthcare is widening. Health experts, leveraging AR’s flexibility, are digging deeper into some of the most complex issues they face and see how AR can untangle that complexity.

Visual demonstration of a specific part of the anatomy of a specific patient is one of the biggest challenges. Today, virtual models are used to efficiently demonstrate the cause of the problem, the stage of the condition and so on. Thanks to Augmented Reality. The healthcare industry is bracing up and shifting gears to leverage the power of AR for far-reaching results.

So far patients had been left with no option other than going through scores of scan reports, which many feel, are incomprehensible and mundane. With Augmented Reality coming into the fold, these scenarios are changing fast.

The technology is not just making doctors’ life easy, it is becoming extremely easy for patients too, in understanding the anomalies caused due to lifestyle changes. In addition, it makes pre-treatment and post-treatment demonstration more detailed and visually appealing. Making patients understand about their medical condition has been a concern among doctors. Now, with AR as a disruption, medical practitioners are embracing it with open arms.

Top companies going the AR way

There’s a lot of talk about Microsoft’s HoloLens lately, despite the fact that it is still in its growing stage. Microsoft claims that HoloLens is the first self-contained, holographic computer fitted into a headset to best experience mixed reality, where it brings objects, people, surroundings together – seamlessly blending physical and virtual world.

The HoloLens is designed to create a world of its own, of course, with a mix of physical and virtual world. And this is how it works.

  • The built-in sensors links its cursor to the users’ gaze, allowing them to turn and select holograms at their desired locations
  • Using the fingers and gesture the users can open, select, drag, drop, size, resize holograms as they want
  • Users can use voice to perform actions like open, close, select apps and so on

Watch the demo here

So how is it changing the healthcare world?

Well, ever since Microsoft’s announcement of HoloLens, the healthcare industry has been keen on implementing the technology to transform their day to day operations.

Stryker is a company that specializes in building orthopedic devices, implants and designing operating rooms. The company, with the help of HoloLens, designs virtual (3D) operating equipments and decides on appropriate placements without going through the trouble of practically doing it.

In January 2017, Philips announced its new AR-powered surgery navigation technology to be used in their ‘hybrid Ors’. The AR functionality allows surgeons to combine patient anatomy with high resolution 3D models to aid in performing accurate pedicle screw placement in the spine.

Previous study has found that through the aid of this technology, the accuracy seemed to have increased to 85% compared to the freehand technique where the accuracy clocks as 64%.

Scopis is a company which specializes in surgical navigation. Recently it has announced it would be using Microsoft HoloLens for its spinal surgery application. Currently, 3D navigation system does exist, but it calls for surgeons to be focused on the LCD monitors. With Augmented Reality the benefits are manifold.

HoloLens gives surgeons an exclusive surgical field of vision, barring distraction; helps in reducing radiation exposure (more in traditional fluoroscopy nav sys), helps to maintain accuracy, gives real-time 3D feedback and more.

Not just inside the operating theatres, AR has been adopted at various verticals in the healthcare industry. Medical inspection division is one such place where AR is quickly gaining ground. AR’s appealing interface and customized features allow the medical inspection division to create a comprehensive product/service topography.

With the help of AR the inspection systems can display detailed and relevant medical/dental records on demand. And the benefits include – increased safety, reduced risks of delay, video conferencing, continuous access to modules, instructions, records; and it aids professionals in understanding unfamiliar cases and procedures.

Despite the buzz around it, AR is still in the enhancement mode, but with positive signs of becoming one of the dominating technologies in the coming years. By understanding its significance, technology experts advice enterprises not to opt for AR just because it’s a new technology, but to tap into its potentialities and see how it can help meet specific business needs rather.

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