By Harish Pai
In his latest post, Sanjay Govil, Founder and Chairman of Infinite Computer Solutions, discussed the impact of mobility on our everyday lives and on businesses across industries. In continuation of this earlier post, let us explore how Augmented Reality is leveraging mobility to transform healthcare.
By 2018, 65% of interactions with healthcare facilities will take place through mobile devices. Mobility is already commonplace in medicine, with 80% of doctors using smartphones and medical apps. The applications of mobility to healthcare have vastly improved monitoring, record management, and connectedness between medical practitioners and patients, or their caregivers.
Healthcare solutions based on Zyter™, an intelligent communication & collaboration platform, are game-changers in enterprise mobility management for healthcare institutions. Zyter™ integrates the full spectrum of patient-centric and context-aware communication seamlessly across channels and devices, from scheduling appointments and updating and reviewing care plans, to sending emergency alerts to doctors. It enables real-time collaboration between healthcare providers and patients to increase efficiency and enhance care coordination through a real-time patient “eConsults”. Zyter™, is a unified platform where all health data can be seamlessly accessed. Now, augmented reality (AR)—technology that enhances healthcare by overlaying it with digital information—takes these mobility-led capabilities even further. As AR technology advances, new ways of applying it to healthcare via mobility tech are emerging. These have the potential to change not just the way healthcare can be delivered, but also the way patients engage with their own recovery processes.
Mobility-enabled AR is playing a big role in making medical and surgical training more interactive and life-like. For instance, by helping trainee doctors to gain a better understanding of health issues, the human anatomy, and surgical procedures. Today there are even mobile apps, which when placed over a 2D image of the body, convert it into a 3D view complete with detailed information. Similarly, surgical resources that are built on Google Glass let users follow the course of an operation as seen by the surgeon.
AR is also helping to improve the quality of treatment for patients. For instance, when it comes to minimally invasive surgery, surgeons need not depend on operating room monitors displaying patient vital statistics via an endoscopic camera. Instead, they can wear AR-enabled smart glasses during the surgery that captures essential information, thereby reducing the multitasking required and also curbing errors. The combination of mobility and AR is changing what is often a key obstacle to medical expertise—a geographical barrier to access. The Proximie app is a case in point, helping bring expertise where and when required. The in-theater doctor can use Proximie to live-stream a video of the patient through a tablet to a specialist who is remotely consulting. This specialist can guide the procedure verbally as well as through notes or diagrams sent over the footage. All of this gets overlaid upon the live visual of the patient, for the in-theater doctor to intervene.
Not only surgical procedures, but also routine healthcare check-ups are benefitting from innovations in this space. AccuVein, for example, is a handheld scanner that helps nurses and staff to precisely locate veins for drawing blood samples or giving injections by illuminating the veins of the patient. It is helping to reduce a whopping 40% of intravenous injections that are misdirected, making the whole experience less painful for the patient.
What I find most exciting about mobility and AR together is that they are not just strengthening what healthcare practitioners can do, but also empowering patients. By bringing real-time information to the user via digital media and 3D models that are accessible through wearable technology, smartphones or tablets, the way patients understand their health issues and the measures they can take to advance their healing are also progressing. Patient education is vital to sustain effective treatment and ensure prevention of diseases. Multi-sensory experiences through AR apps help in educating patients and their families better about diseases and symptoms. Similarly, when it comes to managing aftercare or post-operative health, AR apps can act as digital healthcare helpers for patients, helping them keep track of medicines and check-ups, or providing timely reminders to exercise. Such apps are built for mobiles and tablets, or can be installed in smart glasses like Google Glass. Current innovations are getting further refined to be able to create a more precise experience and seamless digital-physical blend. From Parkinson’s glasses to digital contact lenses and much more, patients are able to access information better. Digital contact lenses are set to completely alter how we see the world and experience our reality with the added ability to capture our bodily vitals or help us navigate e-resources.
The industry forecasts that by 2020, AR will grow to be a USD 90 billion market. As per ABI Research, the use of AR by enterprises will continue to rise with the deliveries of AR smart glasses reaching 27 million units by 2021. Therefore, mobility solutions will enable the benefits of AR to be made accessible in methods and places that medical practitioners find useful. In tandem, they will make a vast improvement to crucial aspects that healthcare outcomes depend on—speed, accuracy, and better information. This is why this blend of digital trends is a fertile space for innovations and is certain to grow further. While the cost of developing such AR solutions varies depending on the features and platform design, they are scalable and accessible to a large number of users. AR, riding on mobility tech, provides the ability to overcome current inadequacies set by the limitations of the physical body and look beyond, and aggregate complex and extensive information to be seamlessly accessible on the go. This is positively transforming not just the medical professional’s abilities but also the patient’s experience.