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Augmented reality bridging the physical and digital gap in healthcare

March 18, 2019
Health IT
By Aaqib Usman

I have always been captivated by the marvels of modern medicine.

But as much as the practice of treating sickness and disease has changed, one reality remains: The human body is complicated. To completely understand how it functions, skilled physicians and surgeons must act with precision as they go about their work.

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The truth is, medical advancements are being realized every day, and with them, amazing results have followed. But as with the body, finding solutions to long-standing medical challenges can be a difficult proposition – even for the most skilled of healthcare professionals.

Yet, what if emerging technology could help bridge the gap between the constantly changing world of medicine and the treatment options doctors seek out for their patients?

Well, thanks to “augmented reality”, physicians and surgeons are becoming better equipped for making life-changing decisions in real time.

"The best use of technology is when it saves lives,” Dr. Imran Patanwala, a gastroenterologist at Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Royal Liverpool University said. “Augmented reality offers unique opportunities to integrate real-life medical situations with multimedia interfaces that can enhance every aspect of modern medicine – both simulated and real – from medical education and skill-based learning applications to the assisted delivery of high-precision robotic surgery. Over the next couple of decades, AR will breathe life into every aspect of medical patient care!"

First, let me explain what augmented reality is and how it actually works: Augmented reality weaves interactive digital elements such as informative overlays and 3D previews with our physical world surroundings.

Let’s use even simpler terms. This kind of technology creates an environment in which digital objects appear in the space around us even by simply using the same camera on our phones and tablets that we use every single day.

Most of us probably use augmented reality on a daily basis without even realizing it. Overlaying a dog’s face on a video text message or using a Snapchat filter are prime examples of how augmented reality enters our daily activities.

Whether we recognize it or not, this kind of technology has the power to change the way that we see the space around us.

Now, let’s consider what using augmented reality means for health professionals we rely on to treat our loved ones – and in all likelihood, ourselves.

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