Virtual reality (VR) is poised to transform the healthcare industry, making it more accessible, safe, and efficient in the event of an emergency.
With the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market in healthcare expected to be worth almost $9.7 billion / £7.84 billion in the next 5 years, it’s a hot industry that has a lot of promise. New technologies and innovations are being developed as we speak, all of which aim to create a better experience for doctors and patients around the world.
What are the current and future applications of virtual reality in medical education and training?
Virtual reality has the potential to impact many areas of the medical industry. It’s already being used to:
1. Improve patient care
Many hospitals are now working on interactive health education content for their doctors and nurses, giving them the opportunity to learn more about patient care outside of the typical medical or surgical environment.
Accessing this information can be done from anywhere at any time, making it easier for medical professionals to fit learning into their busy schedules – which also means they are better equipped to provide exceptional care to their patients.
2. Simulate surgery
Virtual reality can produce realistic surgical simulations. This enables surgeons to practice complex procedures without having to risk the life of an actual patient.
These simulations can also show emergency situations that may not occur frequently but will require a lot of patience and knowledge to complete successfully.
3. Reduce the likelihood of human error
The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is very true in the medical industry, but things like stress and fatigue can be an issue for doctors and nurses.
With VR, hospitals can reduce the chance of human error by providing high-quality training to healthcare staff. Using VR platforms, staff can hone their skills and get used to working in high-pressure situations so that they can better cope with these stressful situations when they’re in the real operating theatre.
4. Help patients during rehabilitation
Rehabilitation can be a long and stressful process for many patients, so getting the chance to remain mobile and regain movement after an injury in a virtual environment can be extremely beneficial.
Although they will still be monitored by a healthcare professional, a virtual reality environment will give patients a chance to immerse themselves in realistic scenarios that can be tailored to suit their individual needs and prepare them for real-world situations.
How is virtual reality being utilised in surgical training and planning?
Doctors, nurses and other medical specialists must go through rigorous training programs before they are able to work with real-life patients. This means that by the time they start to work with patients, they will have a lot of knowledge but little hands-on experience in comparison.
Virtual reality is becoming a common addition to training environments to prepare doctors and nurses for situations that they may encounter with patients in the future. During training, they will be able to access virtual environments and get the chance to operate on virtual patients, without the risk of putting a real person in danger.
Learning through mistakes is normally one of the most effective ways to learn, but not something that doctors and nurses are usually able to experience – one wrong move and they could be responsible for a fatality. Using VR they are free to explore and make mistakes without any consequences.
Because of this, VR is helping to improve surgical training and planning for healthcare staff, reduce the risk of human error in surgeries, and ensure that hospitals are able to give patients the very best care possible.
How is virtual reality transforming medical imaging and diagnostic procedures?
Another area of medicine that has benefited from the use of VR is medical imaging and diagnostic procedures.
For example, using VR-based images, radiology professionals can be presented with an image that they can easily interact with and alter. This can help them to better understand the condition of a patient and identify the best treatment course.
Similarly, using VR can benefit patients who are feeling worried about an upcoming surgery. Using a mixture of modern medical imaging techniques, combined with VR, patients can see a realistic view of their anatomy to understand their condition and what they can expect from surgery. This can put patients at ease and make them less worried about their procedure.
Finally, VR-based teaching platforms can provide interactive lessons and content that students can engage with to further their knowledge and build experience in realistic real-life scenarios.
If you’d like to learn more about our own innovations in the area of VR for the medical sector, contact us today.