Augmented Reality technology is changing the way we work, play, learn and so much more. Believe it or not, it’s now beginning to help us save lives! Check out the 4 ways AR is changing healthcare forever.

1. AR Guides Endoscopic Procedures

In March 2018, history was made in Texas. An endoscopic sinus procedure was performed by surgeons from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. Why was this particular procedure so innovative? Because these surgeons became the first in the country to perform this kind of sinus procedure with the help of augmented reality (AR). The technology is revolutionary, and it comes from Stryker’s Scopis Target Guided Surgery navigation system.

Using AR, surgeons were able to leverage a pre-operative map and overlay it directly on the endoscopic image of the surgical site, which they then viewed on a screen. Doing so, provided them with a digital roadmap that highlighted anatomical structures and facilitated the completion of a highly complex procedure. The results were successful, and the industry is buzzing about what this could mean for interoperative surgical management, patient outcomes, and the potential of AR in the industry.

But the application of AR in healthcare is not limited endoscopic procedures.

2. AR Gives Neurosurgeons Super-Human Targeting Ability

Neurosurgeons are the latest to welcome AR into the operating theater. Just last month, Leica Microsystems received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve GLOW800, an AR-based surgical fluorescence system for vascular neurosurgery.

This technology enables surgeons to view precise areas of the brain in natural color with key locations digitally highlighted in fluorescent green. The technology provides an augmented view for surgeons – giving them the ideal vantage point to assess the cerebral anatomy and blood flow.

The result is a holistic, layered representation of the surgical field that is proving to be invaluable to surgeons as they address aneurysms, remove malformations, or perform other life-saving interventions.

3. More Precise Doctors, More Comfortable Patients

Even everyday doctor appointments have been impacted by the advances that AR devices bring to healthcare.

AccuVein specializes in vein illumination by using portable handheld devices that display the exact outline of the patient’s vasculature directly on the skin. No longer do patients have to tolerate uncomfortable and lengthy blood draws due to problems with locating a viable vein. And it’s not just blood draws that have improved, AccuVein’s technology is also being leveraged in cosmetic procedures, IV starts, and transdermal laser therapies.

According to a study presented at the Infusion Nurses Society Conference, there was a 45% reduction in escalation calls following the deployment of the AR device. And specifically, with females with a BMI over 35, the two-stick success rate went from 50% to 96% using AccuVein.

4. AR Based Autism Therapy

And finally, here at PTC we’ve collaborated with Boston Children’s Hospital to explore the use of AR by working with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Kids with ASD often have difficulties comprehending the dynamics of communication in both written and verbal formats. By overlaying digital imagery onto their physical environment, the hope is children will be able to apply additional information provided by the AR experience to better understand and engage with their environments.

In addition, AR-based therapies could start to reshape what early intervention looks like in the future. Dr. Howard Shane from Children’s describes the exciting possibilities.

“Augmented reality addresses two of the biggest challenges facing a child with autism: communication and attention. With AR, a child with autism could ‘see’ a cup become a spaceship and engage in pretend play, or ‘see’ the steps to brush their teeth right in the context of their own physical environments.”

The incredible potential of AR in healthcare is only just starting to take shape. It is bound to become a disruptive technology that will result in a frameshift in the delivery of care. AR is destined to improve the lives of both patients and healthcare professionals, and as the industry continues to rapidly innovate we can only speculate at what life-changing innovations are right around the corner.

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