Augmented reality has seen an explosion in growth over the last several years. In 2020 alone, the global augmented reality market was valued at roughly $17.67 billion and is expected to grow by 43.8% by 2028. Much of this growth is being driven by the healthcare industry. Augmented reality presents an opportunity for education and visualization that is revolutionizing the way healthcare professionals operate. Industry leaders like Mayo Clinic are already working to develop surgical simulations using both virtual and augmented reality.
What is augmented reality?
It’s clear that augmented reality represents the future of modern healthcare, so it’s important to understand what exactly it is. Augmented reality is “the use of displays, cameras, and sensors to overlay digital information onto the real world.” In other words, augmented reality allows us to bring digital elements into the environment around us.
A prime example of augmented reality is a Google Translate feature that was rolled out in 2015. The update gave users the ability to translate the language of physical signs in real-time using their phone’s camera. This is an extremely useful feature for travelers, but the applications of augmented reality don’t end there. Everything from gaming apps to real estate has the potential for augmented reality applications.
Augmented reality has been around for years, but advances in both the technology and the software used to make it a reality are finally reaching a point where it’s much more practical for widespread use in fields like construction, advertising, and healthcare.
Healthcare industry applications
There are already numerous applications for augmented reality in the healthcare industry. The ability to access real-time data about patients through augmented reality is making healthcare professionals quicker, more accurate, and even better educated.
One of the most useful applications of augmented reality in the healthcare industry today is for educational purposes. Healthcare professionals must learn a vast amount of information about the body and its functions and keep their knowledge up to date. Having an augmented reality visual to interact with and explore can be an important resource for surgeons, doctors, and other medical professionals in their quest to better understand the human body.
Beyond educating healthcare professionals, augmented reality is an invaluable tool in helping patients better understand diseases, treatments, and other important aspects of their medical care that may be difficult to explain. Providing patients with augmented reality visuals can clear up confusion about things like surgical procedures or medications.
Augmented reality is also benefiting the healthcare industry by allowing medical professionals to visualize procedures, internal structures of the body, and other crucial elements of providing care to patients. These visualizations can have benefits ranging from increasing the accuracy of care to speeding up processes that some patients may find unpleasant.
Prime examples of augmented reality visualizations are already in use today. Surgeons are able to go through three-dimensional representations of a patient’s anatomy prior to performing surgery, helping to improve surgery outcomes. Healthcare workers can also use augmented reality to view a map of veins on top of a patient’s skin to more accurately locate veins for injections or drawing blood. This can be especially helpful for patients who may be uncomfortable with these procedures, as it can speed up the process.
Augmented reality is being used every day by healthcare professionals around the world for a variety of purposes. Even with the huge strides forward in augmented reality technology over the last several years, there are still so many opportunities for growth and improvement. As augmented reality technology continues to advance, even more applications will become possible, improving the quality of information and care that healthcare professionals are able to provide.
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