Augmented Reality enables the physical environment or object to become a digital portal to relevant, personalized information that can be tailored to inform users, guide actions and connect to services based on a user’s preferences and self-guided actions. Through interactive graphics, audio, video, 3D objects and animation, AR brings static objects to life. Interactive digital overlays allow people to access useful information and conveniently engage with helpful tools — right from their mobile devices or tablets, with the immediacy and personalization that today’s consumers demand.
Growing applications for healthcare
A November 2019 report from ResearchAndMarkets.com revealed that the global Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality market is expected to reach nearly $168 billion by 2026 — a remarkable CAGR of nearly 35% over the next seven years. This incredible growth will be seen across many different industries and in numerous business- and consumer-impacting applications, with some of the most interesting and transformative use cases occurring in the healthcare space.
Related specifically to healthcare, a May 2019 report published by BIS Research states that the market for VR and AR in the healthcare space was estimated around $2 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach over $11 billion by 2025.
So what does all this growth mean for patients?
Some of the most common ways that AR is being used in healthcare today happen in the operating room and in training scenarios in which doctors and students can see inside their patients through 3D renderings of blood vessels, bones and soft tissue. Using AR, they know exactly where to make incisions and how to approach more complex surgeries.
These use cases have incredible power to steer positive patient outcomes, improve provider efficacy, reduce readmissions and recurrences and improve the value of care. We’re also seeing emerging scenarios in which AR is directly influencing the patient in a much more personalized way. Here are just a few examples of how AR can influence the experience of care and lead to better outcomes.
- Supporting medical device surgeries and procedures: Augmented Reality can assist in common surgeries or procedures using medical devices that generally require a manufacturer’s representative to be present in the operating room. Surgeons performing joint replacement procedures or those implanting pain management pumps, for example, can utilize a custom developed AR application from the device manufacturer that can render a detailed digital overlay of the patient’s anatomy along with interactive instructions to guide the procedure – creating efficiencies for the doctors, health systems, and manufacturers.
- Prescription Management: With an AR feature accessed within the pharmacy’s freeapp, patients can access information about a prescription by simply scanning the prescription label to view videos about how to take or apply the medicine, to contact the pharmacy with questions, to place a refill over text, or to engage with a virtual assistant that can answer questions. (To see how it can work, try downloading the Conduent AR App from your app store and scanning the prescription label here.)
- Better health outcomes: To assist with complex post-op care, a provider can send the patient on their way with customized discharge instructions using the provider’s app for a personalized recovery experience. In this way, the patient can receive highly detailed and interactive post-op care instructions through an AR experience. Consider a patient that needs to change an insulin pump or perform home dialysis. He or she can utilize an AR app that guides them through the procedure using detailed computer-generated overlays – enabling faster and better health outcomes for the patient.
The power of evergreen content
One of the most promising facets of AR applications is that they enable the distributors to provide fresh content and updates in real time. Through cloud-based delivery, it’s simple to modify the AR experience based on revised content, procedures, or information, without ever missing a beat. This enables a much more efficient way to manage content, meet compliance requirements and enhance care and procedure applications.
As the market for AR in healthcare dashes forward, there is tremendous potential for delivering better patient outcomes in terms of health, satisfaction and overall engagement. Providers, payers and pharma leaders share in this exciting potential for creating greater overall value, realizing operational cost savings and transforming the experience of care — one patient and one interaction at a time.