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The way patients and doctors interact hasn’t changed in quite some time. In general,, patients schedule an appointment, meet with the doctor in person, and leave with a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Although telemedicine began in the late 1960’s, there were extensive barriers standing in the way of widespread adoption– such as financial, regulatory, and technological challenges. Today, digital health is quickly advancing and the market is expected to reach $536 billion by 2025. Hospitals and doctor offices throughout the US are adopting innovative technologies to improve patient healthcare. 

AR and VR healthcare platforms are popping up everywhere. For example, companies like XRHealth connect patients and clinicians while leveraging emerging technology. The XRHealth AR and VR platforms strive to treat patients in a fun and engaging way. For health issues like chronic pain, physical therapy, or ADHD– the platform has found a way to improve quality of life remotely. By giving patients access to a clinician and the correct tools to take their health into their own hands, immersive telehealth is transformative. Soon, other startup companies will follow in their lead with the realization that XR technology will continue to disrupt healthcare. 

AR technology can improve the overflow of patients in the ICU or hospital. Patients in senior living facilities geographically distanced locals, or those with compromised immune systems can avoid the hospital by using AR telemedicine to receive quality care. According to Michael Freeman, AR and XR will play a front-and-center role in patient care. He goes on to reiterate, “Patients can be given an XR set so they can see their healthcare workers, receive the face-to-face human connection they need to feel safe and understand more about what is happening to them, all while being monitored and clinically checked remotely by the healthcare professional. 

When hospitals have limited resources and space for patients, telemedicine can fill in the gaps. Not only that, but AR and VR can mimic patient care in real-time. Rather than communicating with a doctor via a computer screen or laptop, the patient can utilize their VR headset to communicate with a physician as they would in person. Emerging technologies have the potential to help deliver better medicine and give people access to accurate medical assessments and treatments that they otherwise would not have had before. 

We can continue to explore beneficial use cases for augmented reality and similar technologies– but serving others from geographically distanced locations is a huge advantage of deploying such technologies. For instance, researchers who were part of Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine demonstrated the use of telemedical augmented reality for emergency situations. Remote clinicians or surgeons can use an AR headset to guide military personnel or paramedics in how to perform emergency procedures. Although this system is still a prototype, it highlights the vast possibilities for AR and VR in digital medicine. 

If immersive technologies can help improve healthcare and speed up the process for getting accurate and informative medical attention, why would we not do our best to support its progress?

 

What do you think?