The possibilities for augmented reality in the medical field are definitely exciting, especially because there are so many facets it can address. Whether it's patient comfort, surgical advances or hospital efficiency, augmented reality is creating a technological partnership to improve the overall patient experience. Augmented reality blends technology and the real world, allowing some features to be enhanced or highlighted. Here are some of the advances that are working specifically to create a better environment for the patient:
Tests and Procedures
For patients who are squeamish about having blood drawn, a program called AccuVein can help diminish that worry. It's a handheld scanner that projects over a patient's skin to show where the veins are located, minimizing the number of times that patient has to get stuck before the needle successfully finds a vein. According to their website, AccuVein increased the chance of a successful first stick attempt by 3.5 times.
Having an MRI means sitting very still for an extended period of time, something that can be nearly impossible for young children. Current Studios came up with a tablet game to help measure a child's capability to sit still for awhile before going in for an MRI. This gives doctors a better idea of whether or not it's necessary for a child to receive general anesthetics before the procedure.
There are a few pretty amazing programs that have been developed to help the legally blind: the VA-ST visor, OrCam and EyeDecide.
The VA-ST visor works with facial recognition and contrast to give a clearer image of what the patient is seeing. Most legally blind people can still see a bit, so it helps sharpen their existing sight abilities. It creates a more definitive outline of what the user is looking at, helping them distinguish with their vision quicker and more accurately.
OrCam, on the other hand, focuses on text. It's a device that clips on to glasses and speaks to the wearer via an earpiece to explain what it's seeing. Whenever someone is pointing to a book, menu or sign, OrCam will read the words out loud, giving a bit more freedom to someone who is legally blind.
EyeDecide by OrcaMD helps demonstrate what it looks like to have certain disorders that affect the eye. Not only does this allow friends and family to see what it looks like to have these disorders, but it helps the user gain a better understanding of the stages of their problem, as well as what the doctor explains.
In a simple but incredibly helpful creation, patients are gradually being able to scan a medication with their device and pull up dosage information, warnings and instructions. Doing so offers up step-by-step guidelines that are presented digitally in augmented reality - which comes in handy if a patient has lost or tossed their medication instructions.
Augmented reality is bridging the divide between patient and doctor while helping both groups to help each other. The medical field has some of the most potential for future growth and possibilities in terms of augmented reality technology, and it won't be long before that technology is common in hospitals throughout the country.