How Will Augmented and Virtual Reality Change Healthcare? 4 of Our Favorite Applications

June 8, 2016

// By James A. Gardner //

James Gardner“Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the Internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming.”

—Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg

If talk of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) brings to mind comically unfashionable goggles, a dearth of useful applications, and headache-inducing graphics, we’d understand. Until two or three years ago, we thought the same—they were technologies of the future and always would be.

But we’ve come full circle in our thinking and so should you.

Consider expert opinion: Consulting firm Deloitte Global, as part of its 2016 outlook, forecasts that this year will be VR’s first billion-dollar year. Looking ahead, Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini predicts that AR and VR could easily generate up to $80 billion in revenue, including hardware and software, by 2025.

Bottom line? After decades of slow maturation, these technologies and their potential for disruption should now be on the “early warning” radar screen of every business leader, including healthcare leaders.

We’re increasingly seeing hospital clinicians and medical researchers at the forefront of this innovation wave. Scientists by nature, they’ve been particularly quick to imagine how augmented and virtual reality technologies could potentially reshape the patient experience, improve clinical outcomes, deliver innovative new therapies, better train healthcare professionals, and make themselves more productive.

In this article, we’ll review the basics of augmented and virtual reality technology and then overview four applications healthcare marketers should pay attention to, to stay ahead of the curve. We owe thanks to Dr. Justin Barad, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery Fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital, who offered commentary and insight. Dr. Barad is also an editor at Medgadget and an authority on emerging healthcare technologies.

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