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Of all the ways that augmented reality (AR) can change daily life, perhaps the most important is its potential in the field of healthcare and aged care. With advances in AR technology, everyone from healthcare professionals to patients and the everyday person on the street stands to benefit from better medical care. This will enhance medical knowledge and improve quality of life.
Spreading medical information & learning
AR can and will play a key role in the spread of medical information at every level of healthcare. Beginning with education, medical students have easy access to information that goes far beyond what a conventional textbook can offer through apps like ARnatomy. With Medical Realities, students are able to experience an operating room scenario through 360-degree videos or “see” through the eyes of a surgeon equipped with Google Glass.
Improving patient understanding
Patients on the other hand will be able to access information about their medication with a simple scan. This is a far more effective method of presentation than the information sheets currently being used. They can also get a better idea of how the medication they’re taking actually works. AR apps can help patients gain a better understanding of the symptoms they’re showing and assist with whether or not to seek further medical attention. EyeDecide, for example, simulates the effects of various medical conditions on eyesight so that patients can identify conditions they may have. On that same note, simulating the effects of a medical condition caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices can encourage patients to take steps to improve their health before the issues arise.
For pharmaceutical companies, AR provides a streamlined platform for marketing their products with information conveyed more effectively and with greater clarity.
Improving delivery of healthcare
AR is already allowing doctors and nurses to deliver better healthcare on a day-to-day basis. AccuVein products scan patients before procedures involving needles. This means a healthcare professional is 3.5 times more likely to find a vein on their first attempt. Similar “X-ray vision” scanning technology coupled with a display of real-time patient data will improve the efficiency and precision of surgery. With patients and paramedics equipped with wearable technology like Google Glass, doctors will be able to offer advice and provide diagnoses remotely. This will make a big difference in emergency situations and resolving less serious situations more conveniently.
Literally saving lives!
AR apps can be literal lifesavers when it comes to medical emergencies. One example is AED4EU, an app that helps you find the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED). By giving more people the power to render assistance, AR can have a major impact during the crucial time between a medical incident and the arrival of paramedics.
Tools to improve vision
While many applications of AR in healthcare improve the way we “see” things, AR can improve vision itself for the sight impaired. With digital contact lenses, retinal implants and wearable technology, like VA-ST SmartSpecs, it’s possible to enhance vision for those with partial or legal blindness.
Assisting in Aged Care
According to the United Nations World Population Ageing report, practically every country is facing an ageing population. This is one of the great social issues of our time. Between 2015 and 2030, the population of people aged 60 and over will grow from 901 million to 1.4 billion. By 2050, this number will hit 2.1 billion with 434 million aged 80 and over. As more people live longer, medical care demands will increase.
While the technologies already discussed will benefit the elderly, there are other AR applications that can cater to them specifically. Apps can provide various reminders and guidance for everyday tasks like shopping and commuting. With AR games like Pokémon GO and apps that “gamify” physical activity like Zombies, Run!, the elderly are encouraged to keep physically and mentally active. Immersive video content will also be a welcome addition to the lives of the elderly. It can allow them to “travel” from the comfort of home [related article] and keep in touch with family and friends.
When AR is applied to a field as important as healthcare and aged care, it is vital that solutions are efficient and secure. Just watch Keiichi Matsuda’s short film Hyper-Reality to see some of the pitfalls of insecure and overbearing AR use. That’s where we come in. At Appearition, our goal is simple – tailored solutions that maximise ROI and deliver sustainable stakeholder value. We employ a partnership model driven by principles in change management. We ensure the complex mesh created by our solutions makes sense for our clients. Contact us to find out more.