Over the past several years, advancements in technology have proven successful in many facets of commercial and consumer markets. From business management and operations to individual shopping experiences and connections to the broader world, technology is being used to improve activities large and small. In healthcare, the use of certain tech has been praised recently, as it promises to create a safer, more efficient environment that is crucial to the lives of millions of patients each year. The addition of augmented reality and virtual reality solutions in healthcare organisations is making waves – in the best possible way.
Recently, a leading children’s hospital in the UK announced the planned use of mixed-reality technology among surgeons. Medical professionals tasked with performing complex but delicate procedures on children with heart issues will be given the opportunity to use hologram goggles to lend a necessary hand. The devices are meant to provide a more accurate depiction of the patient’s body, from the inside out, helping create better outcomes for children undergoing surgery on their heart. While this is not the only technology slated for use in the near future, it does offer a great deal of optimism among patients, their parents, surgeons, and healthcare facilities across the board.
Understanding the Tech
The most recent news of advanced tech in practise among UK hospitals was made possible with the help of leading tech giant, Microsoft. With adaptations to its HoloLens – a combination of augmented and virtual reality capabilities – UK surgeons have the ability to map out the anatomy of a patient based on past CT Scans. This information is then used to develop and project a 3D image over the patient’s body while undergoing surgery. The benefits are powerful as surgeons have a clearer perspective of the patient’s internal organs without having to rely on static images drawn from memory.
Both augmented and virtual reality solutions provide an immersive experience to the user via images, either through special goggles or glasses or the help of a headset. While virtual reality is built on a foundation of complete simulation of a scenario outside the real world, augmented reality allows the user to see and interact with real-life objects or people while also seeing computer-generated images. The combination of these two technologies provides a framework for enhanced experiences, both for patients and surgeons in healthcare settings.
Past and Present Successes
Throughout healthcare, both virtual and augmented reality have been used successfully in the past. Among VR solutions, medical care training, diagnostic procedures, post-treatment evaluations, and pain management have all been touched by the technology advancements. Similarly, augmented reality technologies have been used to improve training simulations among surgeons, nurses, and clinical staff members. The addition of mixed-reality technology like that offered by hologram imaging for surgeons only pushes the potential for improved outcomes forward among patients and doctors alike.
A team of solicitors working with clinical negligence cases explains the true power of mixed-reality enhancements in the medical field, sharing that arguably the most impressive improvement involves malpractice and negligence occurrences. When surgeons are able to more accurately and efficiently treat patients through surgical procedures with the help of AR and VR systems, the incident rate of errors is likely to go down. Because the hologram goggles planed for use in the UK offers detailed images of a patient’s body, surgeons are no longer required to rely as heavily on their memory of anatomy from past training. Reducing the rate of errors among surgeons, particularly for younger patients who are in need of intricate surgical procedures, paves the way for a more effective healthcare system across the board.
Future Implications in Surgery Settings
While the current uses of augmented and virtual reality technologies has shown promise in clinical and surgical settings, many agree that the future implications for surgery outcomes as well as more far-reaching healthcare results are palpable. Not only can these solutions be used to better train and educate medical staff and surgeons, reducing errors on operating tables en masse, but they may also be used to assist in more complex diagnostic cases and implementation of treatment plans.
Additionally, augmented reality and virtual reality tech has the ability to make the patient education and consent process far easier and more efficient. Virtual simulations of how treatment plans will impact the body, how prescriptions may work to solve a medical issue, or the risks associated with a certain procedure can all make for better-informed patients. The combination of these benefits afforded by advancing technology and the willingness of the healthcare environment to embrace modern change lays the necessary groundwork for healthier outcomes for patients and medical providers.