Could Augmented Reality Benefit Patient Experience in Managing Healthcare?

Published: Jul 05, 2018 By

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More and more biopharma companies are moving toward the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning as they develop therapies for a wide range of diseases. But patients can also benefit from similar augmented reality technology to help manage their disease, Forbes reports.

Writing in Forbes, Joe Surprenant, the global sales leader at Vuzix Corporation, an augmented reality company cites a recent report that stresses patient need in managing their disease. The “Strengthening Chronic Care” report from West shows that 91 percent of patients need additional help managing their illnesses between their regular doctor’s visits. That’s where the idea of augmented reality can come into play to benefit patient care, Surprenant said.

The idea builds on technology that is already available and in use by marketing departments from large consumer-oriented businesses. Forbes compared the type of AR technology that could be harnessed by healthcare to programs used by cosmetics company L’Oréal and shoe company Timberland that allows people to see a digital representation of how they would look while wearing the products. Healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies can use similar methods to “virtually reach the patient in their time of need with treatment and prevention information,” Forbes reported. In its examination of the use of AR in healthcare, Forbes lays out three ways that AR could benefit the industry and “enhance the patient experience.”

Dynamic Interactive Learning –Surprenant said that people can often have problems processing “complex concepts” of their medical conditions from a two-dimensional format, such as pamphlets and even video. But, the use of augmented reality can address that. Surprenant used a dermatological condition as an example. He said that patients can use smart glasses that will provide an overlay of a skin condition on their actual arms. That visual knowledge becomes “ingrained because the patient is involved in the learning,” Surprenant wrote. He added that the AR device will allow patients to walk through the application of a topical prescription on that arm in real time, which improves patient confidence and reduces errors in treatment.

Prosthetics Experiences – Another way that patients can benefit from augmented reality is when a person who recently lost a limb must look for a suitable prosthetic. Surprenant said augmented reality will allow patients to use AR to see what a prosthetic limb might look like in order to help them potentially cope with some of the psychological effects following a traumatic injury. AR benefits could also apply to certain medical implants as well, Surprenant said.

Product Visualization – The third way Surprenant said AR can benefit the patient experience is through product visualization. This can be particularly important when consumers look at labels for over-the-counter medications or foods. Surprenant said people can sometimes purchase products that actually complicate medical conditions because ingredients in the medicine or food can negatively interact with existing medications.

“With the improvement in smart glasses and immersive AR applications, the market is primed to evolve into this new mode of health care,” Surprenant said.

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