The Indian Government has budgeted 2.5 percent percent of the country’s GDP for healthcare. This is woefully inadequate and not commensurate with the status of health of Indian citizens. The scenarios are worse when it comes to rural health. Technology, however, has the potential to be a great leveller of sorts. Augmented Reality is one such technology that improves the quality of healthcare if not the quantity.

What is Augmented Reality?

Imagine being able to view live traffic on a physical map. Or seeing the score summary on a live video of a sporting event. Augmented Reality is nothing but a live view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data. Using AR can play a crucial role in enhancing your perceptions and interactions with the real world.

AR is still in its early days in India. Let’s look at a few use cases according to affinityvr and medicalfuturist:

Treating phobias: It is uncommon to find a person who does not suffer from any phobia. AR can create an environment where the patient is exposed to the phobia triggers in a controlled manner and thus overcome their phobia. For instance, if a person is suffering from Acrophobia or a fear of heights, he can be subjected to AR treatment where he is repeatedly facing his phobia trigger in a controlled environment, thereby growing immune to the trigger.

Locating life saving devices like defibrillators: Whenever there is an artery block, it impairs the brain functioning. At such a crucial juncture, a defibrillator locating app can be used by the patient or their companions to locate defibrillators in the vicinity, which helps save precious minutes. It can be viewed on their smartphone screen once the user loads the locations where the device is found. Thus, AR has the potential to even save lives.

Combating obesity: Educating the patient about obesity and motivating them to seek activity outdoors is the way to combat obesity through fitness education. AR devices can be programd to deliver this kind of education and motivation and are proven to be extremely useful in situations where the battle is psychological.

Eye-sight education: An AR app uses the camera display for simulating the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision. Using this app, ophthalmologists can demo a simulation of the vision of a patient suffering from an eye condition. They can do this through interactive anatomical models to enhance patient understanding.

Vein scanner device: At the time of giving Intravenous injections, healthcare professionals commonly miss out on the location of the correct vein. Vein scanning devices can be used over the skin of the patient to bring out the underlying vasculature. This is reportedly hugely successful as the possibility of finding the right vein increased by 3.5 times.

Demonstrating how a drug works: Patients are quite curious about the medical administrations on their bodies. Chemical formulae or medical terminology distances them from medical practice. Using AR devices, they can see a demonstration of how a drug combats the disease afflicting them.

AR in the OR: Whether doctors are conducting a minimally invasive procedure or locating a tumor in liver, AR healthcare apps can help save lives and treat patients with greater accuracy. This is possible because Augmented reality creates accurate 3-dimensional reconstructions which empowers surgeons with x-ray views sans any radiation exposure.

What’s the way forward for AR in healthcare?

According to Rafael Grossmann, the first surgeon who performed an operation with the help of Google Glass, globally, the biggest obstacles are related to education, cultural change and acceptance, but the technical obstacles are not an issue at all, and cost-related barriers will also disappear in the future. India is yet to bring AR to fruition but once it realizes the impact it has on healthcare, there would be no looking back. – Telangana Today

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