Augmented Reality: A Disruptive Trend that is Changing Healthcare
Google Glass and other types of augmented reality (AR) never really took hold in the consumer market but the advanced technology is now poised to be a disruptive trend that will forever change healthcare for patients and providers.
A Q4 2016 report by ABI Research suggests augmented reality will gain momentum as medical professionals seek out new tools and technologies to improve care and outcome for their patients. The research firm suggests regulatory activity will push the medical profession towards AR.
About Augmented Reality in Medicine
Augmented reality is a live view of a real-world environment supplemented with computer-generated sounds, graphics or other sensory input. Unlike virtual reality, which entirely replaces the real world with a simulated one, augmented reality replaces only certain elements.
AR can include “see what I see” applications, education and training. “See what I see” apps can transmit what EMTs see to emergency department physicians. In medical applications, augmented reality applications can simulate how it would feel to have certain medical conditions.
AR applications (apps) can help patients check visual symptoms against a medical database or share information in real time with their doctors. Patients with hearing problems can use AR apps and their smart phones to convert auditory information, such as the screech of brakes or a loudspeaker announcement on an airplane, into text displayed on the smart phone. AR apps can highlight maps of wheelchair-friendly routes when an individual visits a city for the first time.
Augmented reality can provide medical training to a large number of students, even those living in remote or impoverished areas. Students use AR to practice surgical techniques, or even allow experienced surgeons to practice procedures on a three-dimensional AR rending of a patient before performing the procedure on the actual patient.
Augmented Reality Applications are Already in Use
Eye Decide by OrcaMD is an educational application that could potential improve patient compliance. This education tool simplifies complex eye conditions and treatments in a way that improves knowledge, understanding and retention. Users can view the eyeball from any angle, with and without skin. Eye Decide also demonstrates the effects of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and other eye conditions, so that patients can see what a particular disease will eventually do to their vision without proper treatment.
AccuVein displays a map of a patient’s vein to make placing needles easier and more accurate. The healthcare practitioner uses a handheld scanner that detects heat radiating from the veins, converts information gathered about that heat into a map of the veins, and then projects this map onto the patient’s skin. AccuVein enjoys a 40 percent annual growth rate. By the middle of 2015, this augmented reality app had already helped more than 10 million patients. Sales will likely continue at a robust pace as patients and nurses demand the technology to reduce the average number of “sticks” involved in placing an intravenous (IV) needle.
Many legally blind people still have some vision but cannot see well enough to recognize faces, drive, read, or avoid obstacles in their path. VA-ST is a visor that combines a 3D camera with a computer to enhance vision by improving contrast, and highlighting edges and features. Users can even pause or zoom video for a clearer view. This technology will become more popular as the population of the United States ages and suffers age-related vision loss.
Like other industries, medicine leverages new technology to improve efficiencies and performance. The move from a per-service reimbursement structure towards one that focuses on quality of care will spur growth of augmented reality in medical settings.
Frank Magliochetti is Managing Partner for Parcae Capital.
North Andover, Massachusetts
This column of posts is directed at the Healthcare Industry. Frank plans to release a new site dedicated to the industry. He currently assists companies who are building, restructuring, transforming and resurrecting there business’s. An example of his client base are, Xenetic Biosciences , IPC Medical Corp, Just Fellowship Corp, Environmental Services Inc., Parsons Post House LLC, ClickStream Corporation as well as having a business talk radio show; The Business Architect on the URBN network.