Of all the things that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most alarming was the strain the pandemic put on healthcare systems worldwide. Many hospitals around the world suffered from a lack of beds, staff, or resources for caring for critically ill patients; many were unable to receive things such as ventilators or proper medication treatment, and subsequently died. What this shows us is a clear need for the healthcare system to improve its capabilities of care, and also that they may need to adopt new technologies, procedures, and approaches in order to combat similarly deadly viruses in the future.
One particular technology which the healthcare industry has been eyeing is that of augmented reality, or AR. In fact, AR is already seeing itself used in a number of ways for the medical field; with these adoptions of AR technology growing each and every day. So where is AR improving healthcare? What specific symptoms or diseases can it treat, and how does it make a doctor or surgeon’s job simpler? We’ve collected a few write-ups to familiarize you with AR and show you the leaps and bounds it’s making for the medical industry. Before we dive in, however, a brief explanation of AR: Augmented reality is simply the act of superimposing computer-generated imagery (CGI) onto the real world, in real-time. From there, the AR can be interacted with through the use of smart devices and cameras allowing healthcare practitioners to fine-tune their approach to healing their patients.
EchoPixel is a software that aims to make surgery safer and simpler for surgeons and doctors alike. Founded in 2012 out of Santa Clara, California; the EchoPixel project has reached nearly $15 million in funding, and for good reason. EchoPixel utilizes a platform known as True3D, which visualizes the organ and tissue layout of specific patients in order to make safer incisions, avoid post-surgery complications, and hopefully speed up the healing process for those receiving surgery. Moreover, the software is already getting buzz; it has been approved for use by the FDA, and other hospitals including the Cincinnati Children’s hospital, the Primary Children’s Hospital, the C.S. Mott Hospital, and many others now utilize EchoPixel in clinical procedures.
Another AR software that utilizes holographic visualization is SentiAR. SentiAR is a fairly new AR company, founded in 2017 out of St. Louis, Missouri. However, just because SentiAR is new on the market doesn’t mean it isn’t turning heads. Already $7.4 million has been raised by them, and in addition, they received a nomination for the Top 10 Cardiovascular Device Companies in 2019 by the Med Tech Outlook publication, a site that posts news and milestones related to technological breakthroughs in the medical industry. SentiAR functions by creating holographic visualizations of patients’ bodies, which are then superimposed over the patient during the procedure in question. Currently, it’s being used to treat cardiac arrhythmia, blockages in arteries and veins, and a number of other heart-related procedures and surgeries.
One thing which may be surprising is over 62% of adults require multiple attempts for doctors to find a usable vein to draw blood or inject medicine during medical procedures. For obvious reasons, this can be problematic, as it could cause injury from repeat picking, the possibility of infection, and could even take up valuable time in procedures where time is of the essence. One way doctors are combating this is through the use of the software Accuvein. It is a handheld scanner, which allows doctors and nurses to more easily find veins, receive usable blood samples, and will allow them for simpler diagnostic tests and more accurate diagnoses.
It goes without saying, but there is a lot of time, memorization, and practice which goes into the career medical practitioner. Without a doubt, there is plenty to know. Thankfully, this is likely on its way out as various companies begin the process of using AR to teach medical procedures and train doctors for the expectations of their real-life duties. It provides valuable hands-on learning experiences for students, and the repetition of these digital procedures helps to create muscle memory for these future doctors. ImmersiveTouch is seen as the current innovator in medical training, as their software allows for both virtual realities and augmented reality to be used in the process of teaching. Additionally, it is packed with education solutions, knowledge base like resources related to the healthcare field, and a variety of surgical simulators and management systems to help our next generation of doctors familiarize themselves with their job before they even need to lift a scalpel.