How Virtual Reality #VR and Augmented Reality #AR is transforming Healthcare by Dr. Vikram @drvikram

Digital is transforming healthcare. It is creating new channels for improving patient experience, creating better clinical processes and engaging doctors and other para-clinical staff like never before.

It is also creating new models for areas like medical education, rehabilitation and managing supply chain. In these there key areas Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are playing a key role. But first let’s start with the definition and differences between AR and VR.

Augmented Reality or AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. So the game Pokemon Go is a good example of AR. (Source: Wikipedia)

While VR on the other hand VR- Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that uses Virtual reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. (Source: Wikipedia) So VR requires a headset specialized for the same. 

The Industry seems to be taking notice of this emerging area. These are some numbers from the industry

1. More than 150 of Global Fortune 500 investing in AR/VR
2. VC and corporate investment upto $2.3 Billion in AR/VR Startups 
3. IDC projects revenues from AR/VR to grow from $5.2 billion today to $162 billion by 2020

But why are the key reasons why AR/VR has reached this level

1. We have more computing power than ever before. Today we have GPU’s and TPU’s that put immense computing power at our disposal
2. There is a explosion in digital data. By 2020 it is believed that we would have created 40,000 Exabyte of data
3. Finally programmers today are writing better algorithms. That is why machine learning is mainstream today

So what are the implications of the same in healthcare?

There are clearly implications in Medical Education. Pilots conducted in Miami Children’s hospital have shown an 80% increase in retention while using AR/VR. There are other pilots involving treating war veterans using VR for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I will be speaking on this topic on, 23 Aug 2017, at the IT Healthcare Summit 2017 in Bangalore. It will be interesting to discuss and other topics on digital health and how it is transforming healthcare in India. Looking forward to hearing your views on the same. 


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Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Dr Vikram Venkateswaran is a healthcare thought leader who writes and speaks about the emerging healthcare models in India and the role technology plays in them.
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