3 Ways to Get Started With AR and VR Technology in Healthcare
Jessica Rengstorf, Director of US Healthcare Strategy at Endava

Augmented reality and virtual reality are innovative technologies that can provide tremendous benefits to the healthcare industry, bringing a deeper understanding of complex medical concepts to healthcare professionals and patients alike. Already, the integration of data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, telemedicine, and interoperability have begun to shift how healthcare is delivered; away from care that’s centered around disease management and toward care that’s more holistic, personalized, and patient-centric. But where should healthcare organizations start when looking to adopt these new technologies? Here are three areas in which healthcare professionals can tap extended reality technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to find increased utility at the onset. 

Medical training 

One area where AR and VR applications can deliver increased utility right away is via medical training. Both AR and VR applications can be used to provide a three-dimensional understanding of complex medical concepts, allowing healthcare professionals to enhance a wide variety of skills. At some healthcare institutions like Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and Kaiser Permanente, VR has already emerged as a transformative tool for refining employee competencies. 

For instance, AR and VR technologies offer clinicians the ability to interact with and understand complex medical devices; giving them invaluable hands-on experience. These immersive experiences not only enhance clinician proficiency but also ensure that patients benefit from the latest advancements in medical technology.

Another use case for immersive VR experiences is nurse empathy training. Training via this method enables nurses to gain firsthand insights into the challenges and perspectives associated with various medical conditions. So far, it has proven to be more impactful than traditional methods, fostering a deeper understanding of the nuances tied to specific health conditions and enhancing inclusivity in healthcare interactions.

Personalized patient care

For decades, traditional healthcare models have centered around disease management. But now, the dynamic is shifting, placing patients at the core. Modernized approaches to healthcare emphasize the importance of personalized, patient-centric care; a more individualized healthcare experience that is not a one-size-fits-all approach. By leveraging technology like AR and VR to understand and respond to unique patient needs, preferences, histories, and conditions, healthcare professionals can provide more personalized and holistic care.

Via a more personalized approach to care, clinicians can also foster a sense of empowerment and engagement among patients, contributing to better adherence to treatment plans and improved health outcomes overall. Access to integrated health data, telemedicine for remote consultations, and user-friendly interfaces enhance patients’ ability to understand and manage their health more easily, leading to better communication, shared decision-making, and improved health literacy. 

Immersive treatment solutions

In the realm of physical therapy, extended reality technologies like VR are reshaping diagnostics and treatment planning. Through immersive simulations, healthcare professionals gain a powerful tool for precise assessments, real-time monitoring, and the creation of tailored rehabilitation plans. This transformative approach enhances clinicians’ capabilities, ensuring more personalized and effective interventions for patients.
 

However, recognizing that advanced technologies can play a central role in healthcare necessitates a re-evaluation of trust dynamics, considering both patients and healthcare professionals. Transparently addressing patient concerns, investing in training programs, and supporting mechanisms for healthcare professionals ensures that any technology used will be viewed as a collaborative tool for augmenting capabilities, not as a replacement for essential roles in clinical decision-making and treatment planning. Taking this approach advances healthcare practices and reinforces the collaborative nature of partnerships between people and technology.
 

Navigating the digital landscape is an exciting step in enhancing the efficiency of healthcare delivery. However, it’s important not to overlook the need to establish digital literacy across both healthcare professionals and patients. There are several measures to keep in mind before leveraging AR and VR. For successful technology implementation, ongoing training programs are pivotal for ensuring that healthcare professionals adeptly utilize digital tools, including electronic health records and telemedicine. On the flip side, patient education initiatives will help empower individuals to navigate digital tools effectively, contributing to a more informed and engaged patient population. Initiatives focusing on cybersecurity awareness will also be crucial for maintaining trust in the digital healthcare ecosystem as well, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding sensitive health information.


About Jessica Rengstorf, Director, U.S Healthcare Strategy at Endava  
Jessica Rengstorf Director, U.S Healthcare Strategy at Endava has over 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry. With a background in health insurance, public health, employer-based benefits, and digital health point solutions, she understands the complex challenges of the healthcare ecosystem. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in public health administration and policy from the University of Minnesota and focuses on healthcare strategy at Endava.

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