By Tatyana Shavel, technology analyst, Iflexion.
The essential purpose of virtual reality or VR is to shut down the real world and immerse a person into a different environment, be it a fantasy or just a place far away. While it is mostly used in entertainment, this technology gets wide adoption across other industries, including construction, education, retail and healthcare.
According to a recent report, the global healthcare VR market is expected to massively grow by 2023 with a 54.5 percent CAGR. The researchers name a range of major VR applications anticipated to drive even more investments in upcoming years, including PTSD treatment, rehabilitation, education and training, and surgery simulation. The actively growing market creates a supportive environment for better collaboration among payers, clinical stakeholders, and varied VR development companies, naming Osso VR, Iflexion, Psious and others.
Even though the VR technology is quite young, and healthcare isn’t always daring to adopt cutting-edge approaches and add them to the traditional practice, it is just too promising to ignore.
On the one hand, there are multiple scientific papers debating over virtual reality’s use in pain and anxiety management, mental health improvement, fall prevention in elder population and eye microsurgery training, among the others. On the other hand, we witness market-ready products encouraging health specialists to revolutionize care delivery. In this article, we will review the most promising VR applications in healthcare, backed by real-world solutions.
Guest post by John Barnett, project coordinator at Iflexion.
With evolving requirements for care value and quality, caregivers turn to technology to handle emerging challenges related to patients’ health outcomes, care costs and CMS reporting. Each year, new tech-driven solutions arise to assist providers in complying with changing circumstances.
The upcoming 2017 will be even more interesting technology-wise, since after Donald Trump was elected the new President, it’s now possible to form a very different perspective on healthcare. With this in mind, let’s look into market analysts’ predictions for growing trends to watch next year.
3D imaging, augmented and virtual reality
Currently, MRIs and CT scans allow viewing patients’ body parts, organs and tissues in 3D. 2017 may uplift care delivery by harnessing 3D imaging and improving it with augmented and virtual reality.
Caregivers can adopt 3D imaging for patient education and engagement, as well as for treating mental health disorders, such as phobias and schizophrenia.
Surgeons, physicians and nurses might use 3D and enabled glasses for further education and training – for example, to simulate complex microsurgeries. Augmented reality can be harnessed during live surgeries as well, allowing more precision to locate organs and blood vessels accurately, reducing possible damage to healthy tissue.
For instance, eye and brain surgeries imply working in limited spaces, using high-powered microscopes, and making cuts sometimes smaller than a millimeter (e.g., in retina surgery). 3D cameras can widen the picture and allow the whole team to see the target area. When 3D view is coupled with enabled glasses, this may also reduce surgeons’ fatigue from constantly looking into a microscope and keeping an uncomfortable posture with bowed heads and strained necks.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
While physicians have remarkable capabilities to analyze patients’ symptoms and make deductions, still humans can process quickly only a limited volume of information. This is where technology comes into play to support experience and proficiency.
Particularly, artificial intelligence software development is anticipated to become one of the widespread trends of 2017, with such headliners as IBM, Google, Amazon and many others.
AI encompassing machine learning and big data analytics evolves to make multiple healthcare processes faster and more effective. Some of the examples of future benefits are:
- Automated diagnostics based on medical images
- Predicted disease progression with chances to develop complications and further admissions / readmissions
- Predicted reaction to chemotherapy in cancer patients
- Calculated groups of at-risk patients (such as chronic patients with multiple conditions) according to their vitals, heredity, prior diseases, passed procedures and more to enroll them in specialized connected health programs
- Predicted care results and patients’ health outcomes according to established treatment plans, allowing to intervene timely and improve care delivery
Many of future solutions will support natural language processing, as big data in healthcare usually comes in big chunks of unstructured information. If surgeons, physicians and nurses are able to input information directly with their voice, this will also reduce time, effort and, ultimately, costs.