Augmented reality healthcare inroads

Augmented reality (AR) is gaining traction in health care by providing us with another dimension to our physical world, and allowing us to see a digital layer of text or images to enhance what we experience in the real world.

As an example, AR can provide surgeons with 3-D reconstructions of tumors with x-ray views in real time.

While video games stimulate fantasy, creativity, and develop skills for holistic vision, the medical field has seen that AR doesn't need to be just fun and games; it can be used as a smart tool for patient care. Although games can be lucrative, software companies are now seeing new opportunities to develop products for clinicians that provide enhanced 3-D visualization for more accurate patient analysis and treatment. This technology has the potential to be disruptive and to reshape health care. One day in the not so distant future, I can see AR being widely adopted by clinicians as a complementary tool to aid procedures, as well as assist other health care professionals and patients.

AR is a valuable technology that is helping us create experiences that will advance patient care. One of Top 10 Medical Innovations that our alliance partner Cleveland Clinic has highlighted for 2017 is 3-D Visualization and Augmented Reality for Surgery. The overview paints a scenario of a surgeon being immersed into a high resolution, 3-D visual representation of the patient. Rather than having to perform surgery with limited peripheral vision and communication with staff, especially during intense operations, the surgeon is able to generate visual templates to perform certain procedures. As you can see, this scenario provides for more precise patient care, while also ensuring that the surgeon's abilities are maximized, and costs are minimized.

In addition, AR glasses – lenses that display holographic images while still allowing you to interact with the real world – can be programmed to display real-time information. This can be of great assistance in creating more accuracy in countless medical situations. As an example, using HoloLens headsets, Stryker, a medical device company, can now envision a more effective operating room configuration for surgeons, staff, and patients through the power of holograms and the benefit of mixed reality.

It is becoming clear to see that the combination of AR that includes a mixture of big data, Internet of Things, and wearable computing will become the norm in connecting people with the information they need to create miraculous results. It is a beautiful thing to see technology infiltrating health care like never before, helping to push it further into the future. And AR shows great promise in creating more precise and intimate patient treatments and interactions.

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