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5 Reasons Virtual Reality is Changing the Game of Medicine

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Virtual reality can truly transport you to a different world. As many people have reported the first time they try out a headset, the experience is incredibly lifelike. Virtual reality today is producing not only more advanced video games that evoke real emotion in people but a solution for the healthcare industry too. Virtual reality is enhancing the patient experience to the process of rehabilitation. Many VR developers including Samsung have stepped up to produce technology over the last decade that is built with patient experience in mind.

VR applications in the medical field are almost limitless at this point. VR technology is working to deliver an immediate benefit in these five sectors of health care:

  1. Training: VR programs have been introduced for clinical skills training support. Medical students can complete surgical skill training in the form of simulations. Doctors can complete full procedures in VR without risking patient health and feel more confident in their abilities going into a real procedure having done the simulation.
  2. Prevention: VR experiences for promoting wellness, managing stress and treating addictive behavior are all occurring today. Specific programs for helping people to manage stress and coping their addiction are working to improve the patient in stressful situations.
  3. Adherence during training: improving patient experience through various VR training and game-like features is helping medical facilities to engage with patients during the treatment process. This can lead to better injury recovery and more.
  4. Pain management: VR distraction experiences are now being used as an alternative to painkillers. These solutions can reduce the overall dosage of painkillers that are required during specific procedures, and they can even eliminate the use of painkillers in situations such as dressing burns and more.
  5. Telemedicine: standalone VR systems and cell phone-based systems can be of use for providing health care access remotely. Connecting with physicians through VR could enhance chronic disease management and help physicians support improved home diagnosis and recovery.

VR applications in healthcare can have almost limitless possibilities such as overcoming phobias in mental health conditions, fulfilling the dying wishes of the palliative care patient, easing stress during procedures like vaccinations and continuing to provide support as an alternative to painkillers.

Many manufacturers are working on dropping the price of their headset substantially. For medical use, there are headsets now available for less than $100 that can be used with most smartphone devices. As a long-term strategy, VR is still an industry that is mostly consumer driven, but as more developers step forward and continue producing products for medical use, we may see more hospitals continuing to implement this technology for their patients.

As more people have access to this technology at home, it could also improve the availability of applications that they could access on their smartphones or VR devices. Patients both in medical facilities and at home will be able to take advantage of the therapeutic effects of this fantastic technology as long as developers keep scaling up their efforts.

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/reenitadas/2018/05/31/virtual-reality-the-alternative-to-marijuana-and-opioids-for-pain-management/#6df84d9851d6

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3D Printing to help with Surgical Mask Shortage

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Healthcare facilities are experiencing a shortage of medical supplies with the growing effects of COVID-19. The first line of defense of the infectious disease are the medical professionals evaluating and assessing patients. Especially patients that require hospitalization due to the severity of their symptoms. Each day the number of cases increases while healthcare providers are working diligently to protect the well-being of patients in hopes of making a full recovery. The virus is causing medical professionals to consistently use surgical masks, which results in a low supply of vital medical equipment.

Surgical masks are needed to protect healthcare providers and infected individuals to prevent transmission of the disease. There have been reports of others helping to supply essential equipment to ensure the safety of medical staff and patients. Owners of 3D printers are stepping in to help healthcare professionals with the growing shortage of medical tools.

In Montana, healthcare professionals at Billings Clinic are utilizing 3D printers to produce reusable plastic face masks. After printing, the masks are then fitted with pieces of surgical masks that can be changed as needed. The plastic mask requires a small square of a surgical mask filter, and then the surgical masks are cut into smaller pieces that are clipped to the plastic mask to be used as a filter. 

The mask filter can be used for a day and changed out the next day, and can be washed with soap and water. Other disinfecting products and bleach can be used to properly clean the mask to ensure proper sanitation. One mask has the capacity to be used up to 6 to 10 times from a single surgical mask. 

Billings Clinic has also uploaded files and instructions so anyone can print masks on their own 3D printer. Libraries in Montana will begin to print masks including Montana State University Billings and Rocky Mountain College. 

In Liverpool, New York a couple that develops 3D printers has stopped production on all orders to focus on creating face masks for medical responders and healthcare workers. Stephanie Keef and Isaac Budmen are owners of Budmen Industries and have created a visor they could print on 16 printers that are operating at full capacity in their New York residence.

Link to Source

The couple purchased elastic and clear plastic that created 400 completed face shields that they’ve delivered to the Emergency Management Department in Onondaga County

The couple also provided files accessible to other users and established a database that can connect to printers with hospitals in need of supplies. The video below shows how the masks are printed:

Sources:

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/23/us/nyc-coronavirus-hospitals/index.html
  2. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/23/us/coronavirus-3d-printed-medical-supplies-trnd/index.html
  3. https://www.billingsclinic.com/foundation/
  4. https://budmen.com/

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Finding Accessible Healthcare During a Pandemic

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Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, you may find it hard to locate accessible healthcare when your doctor’s office cancels your current appointments. This predicament is the reality we are now living in 2020 with the new coronavirus spreading without an available vaccine. It is leaving people confused and scared who may have a slight cold, unsure if they have the disease or are due for a yearly checkup from their healthcare provider. 

Physicians are now switching to telemedicine to connect with patients rather than an office visit to limit transmission and exposure of COVID-19. Staying at home has become the new normal either working from home or even having your scheduled doctor appointments at home.

While the number of infected patients continues to increase with transmission around the globe, MedTech startups, healthcare organizations, and others are introducing applications, including online services. In hopes to help people track the virus in their location, check for symptoms, provide information on ways to help prevent exposures, and testing methods that limit exposure risk. 

Teladoc

Teladoc has seen a 50% increase in appointments with providers just in the last week due to COVID-19. The company helps to provide remote care to patients without having to delay their health needs. Teladoc works with the world’s leading insurers, employers, hospitals, and health systems. People may already have apps through insurance or employers.

CVS Minute Clinic 

Apps like CVS Minute Clinic provide healthcare to all users regardless of insurance for a price of $60 for each visit that makes it possible to access medical attention at a low cost. The app offers video visits to meet with a qualified health professional to receive medical treatment when needed. 

DocClocker

The app allows patients to receive current wait time reporting from their medical providers. The app intended to limit the spread of the virus and avoid long waits in medical waiting rooms to reduce exposure risks. 

Orion Health 

This outbreak monitoring platform gives doctors the ability to interact and engage with patients in the comfort of their own homes. Allowing providers to facilitate communication between quarantine patients and the healthcare service to maintain those who have been recently discharged. Orion will use artificial intelligence over time to permit providers to identify patients who may be at risk for declining progress and maximize their care.

TytoHome

Developed by Tyto Care, this device offers a remote examination that allows quarantined patients in hospitals or home isolation to conduct clinic-quality self-examinations. TytoHome also connects patients to physicians who can evaluate symptoms from a safe distance.TytoVisit platform (includes the TytoApp and Clinician Dashboard) for conducting live video telehealth exams, reviewing exams, and communicating with patients

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization is in the process of developing an open-source app to aid people around the world to cope with COVID-19. The app is considered to be a “Waze for COVID-19” to provide locally focused information to each user. The app plans to obtain people’s data feedback to public health officials to increase the app’s efficiency. The app will utilize each smartphone’s GPS history to identify whom an infected person has been in contact with to detect those who may be at risk and need to self-quarantine. When users initially download the app WHO-approved information for safety measures and guidelines will be presented. In the near future, it might also inform people who are seeking treatment in which local hospitals have available beds.

Telemedicine is the preferred method of contact for patients and doctors since the recent outbreak of the virus. Incorporating telemedicine apps into modern healthcare ensures patients that they’re medical needs are met and maintain the well-being of their health.

Sources:

  1. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/07/how-pharma-companies-are-fighting-against-covid-19/
  3. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak-triggers-wave-apps-online-tools-diagnosis-testing
  4. https://teladochealth.com/who-we-serve/
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/03/19/telehealth-apps-coronavirus/
  6. https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic
  7. https://docclocker.com/
  8. https://orionhealth.com/global/
  9. https://www.tytocare.com/professionals/products/tytohome/
  10. https://www.who.int/
  11. https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/who-official-coronavirus-app-waze-covid19

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AR/VR Can Impact the Future of Healthcare

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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are the latest technologies to emerge in the healthcare industry, and utilizing both could maximize existing medical treatment. Challenges that face the healthcare industry consist of constant demand from medical institutions and the lack of personnel to manage the exceeding workflow. Implementing AR/VR could optimize the healthcare field with access to different forms of therapy and treatment.  

Augmented reality uses cameras, sensors, and displays to pass on digital information to the real world. AR enhances the user’s visibility of the real world by superimposing the information and 3D elements. In virtual reality, the user’s experience a complete shift in their view via different scenes like a video game or rollercoaster ride film.

Medical providers already see the benefits of this technology, including diagnosing, treating, as well as advancing cure diagnosis of illnesses. With surging popularity and increasing demand for AR/VR in healthcare, experts predict this enterprise to reach $5.1 billion by the year 2025

Healthcare professionals are already using AR/VR in various ways, including:

Surgical Training

Something as intricate as surgery requires not only practice but also precision. Instead of observing surgeon conduct procedures, there is a more interactive tool that offers excellent training available for medical students that involve the use of VR. This form of training provides students guided lessons step by step with endless scenarios for proper preparation for any circumstances possible. 

Psychological Treatment:

AR/VR provides treatment for mental disorders, from stress-related disorders to eating disorders, and chronic pain. VR has been used for Veteran’s diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The simulation puts patients in situations that trigger flashbacks. This exercise helps patients to learn how to manage stress triggering situations properly. 

Diagnostic Advancements

Efficient detecting, preventing, and treating diseases is one of the ways AR can advance diagnostic assessments. The visual information from sensors into one interface demonstrates the potential causes of a patient’s state through analysis. This assessment gives the doctor the ability to look through the patient’s veins, organs, lesions, and other points without intrusion.

Virtual Cancer:

Through the use of VR Cancer Research UK Institute doctors can innovatively study cancer. A cancerous tumor sample is taken from the patient and allows doctors to observe the structure of cancer cells in detail from all angles. The purpose of the VR 3D model is to help cancer researchers better understand cancer and discover new treatments.

Rehabilitation for Brain Injuries:

Recovery from brain injuries is a challenge patients face with zero pharmacological therapy available. VR is a cost-effective tool that allows therapeutic engagement both at the patient’s bedside and during daily life at chronic stages after injury. Rehabilitation is now possible with VR that helps patients recover to regain a higher level of cognitive function. Utilizing VR therapy can help doctors detect areas where patients are still experiencing difficulties, such as memory loss or the inability to make decisions.

Both technologies are producing positive results for the physical and mental well being of patients. Incorporating the use of AR and VR helps scientific professionals further their understanding and treatment of numerous health conditions and diseases.

Sources: 

  1. https://arpost.co/2019/12/24/how-ar-and-vr-creating-ripples-healthcare-industry/
  2. https://theappsolutions.com/blog/development/ar-vr-in-healthcare/
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46527235
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5964310/
  5. https://www.arm.com/blogs/blueprint/ten-ways-vr-ar-transforming-healthcare

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