Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been growing to encompass a variety of different fields, from business and gaming to healthcare applications. Research into healthcare applications for AR and VR technologies have swelled up in the past decade with the advances in computing power. Currently, AR and VR healthcare applications have been focused on educating or simulating different treatments for surgeons and clinicians. There are three key healthcare delivery stages as defined by the world health organization: Primary care; Secondary care; Tertiary care interventions. According to a research study done in the UK analyzing all the ongoing research in AR and VR in healthcare application, there is a broad focus in hospital and clinical settings. Here is a list of interesting technologies in development or are currently rolled out in hospitals and clinics.
- There have been developments in dental care using a 3D iOS scanning system to create dental abutments and to potentially plan for surgical interventions.
- Simulated needle placements for training purposes, with haptic feedback systems to simulate real tissue.
- Simulations of surgery procedures for greater patient engagement with practitioners on the outcomes of surgeries.
- Aiding surgery with additional information about the patient anatomy by reconstructing patient anatomy using spatial information collected through using image-based tracking.
- Training nature of tools developed need full surgical theater settings and require a hospital setting for deployment.
- Simulations of health conditions are being developed so that interventions can be planned for a wide variety of scenarios.
- Human body measurements captured through computer-aided design (CAD) to process 3D measurements and display modeled body shapes.
- Handheld technology through a hand-held surface scanner can be used to present spatial information in a mobile format.
- There is a system being developed to measure the size of wounds using 3D sensing technology to improve the reliability and accuracy of surface measurements continuously.
- A hand-motion based VR game used as a therapy treatment to reduce hand muscle problems associated with keyboard overuse.
- AR and VR can be combined to add greater depth to technologies. Research for a system has been made to use AR to project a virtual brain onto the patient’s head. On the same system, VR will be used to allow the patient to have a hands-on experience with the projection to see the solutions implemented.
- The Xbox Kinect has been used for developing AR anatomy education.
- A wheelchair navigation system using smartphones to scan specific locations in order to assist the user in moving around their environment.
In short, AR is used to visual pre- or intraoperative images onto the patient’s anatomy to aid in decision making moving forward. VR has been used for educational purposes and interacting with anatomy. The future of healthcare will be greatly enhanced for patients and healthcare providers alike.
A Look Into Health IT and Patient Safety
Over the last decade, health information technology (HIT) has had a significant influence on patient quality of care and safety. HIT is defined as “the application of information processing utilizing computer software and hardware that will process, store, and retrieve data for decision making” and knowledge sharing. The technology aims to reduce human errors, improve care coordination, and enhance clinical outcomes for patients. Here are some examples of existing technologies that have changed the healthcare landscape:
- Electronic Physician’s Orders: In this process, physicians utilize electronic or computer support to enter medication orders. More robust systems also allow physicians to order consultations, tests, and procedures. Electronic Physician’s Orders have been interlinked with the clinical support decision systems (CDS) to ensure the safety of clinical orders. This is done by preventing drug dosage and administration errors. A metanalysis suggests that this process been found to reduce medication errors and severe drug reactions effectively.
- Clinical Decision Support: This form of support is meant to relay patient-related information to the healthcare provider to optimize clinical decision making. The tools that assist in clinical decision making include notifications, clinical guidelines, patient clinical summaries, and other documentation. Research has concluded that compliance with on-screen physician reminders resulted in small improvements in process adherence, medication orders, and different clinical outcomes.
- Bar Code Medication Administration: Bar code technology is integrated with electronic medical records to ensure that patients receive the correct amount of medication. Advanced software has special medicine validation features that can provide alerts if there is look-alike medication. This technology has reduced medication administration errors by 50% to 80%.
While there is substantial evidence that health information technology plays a role in patient safety, it is essential to receive front-line and executive buy-in. Buy-in will allow the organization to be fully equipped to reap the benefits of the technology.
Top Yoga Apps of 2019
Many people practice yoga to merge the mind and the body and to seek out physical and mental health benefits. But did you know that there are apps available to facilitate your yoga sessions? Word of Health would like to recognize some of the top apps that will optimize your yoga experience.
Note: This is not a ranking article, and the descriptions for each app can be found on the applications store on your smartphone.
This highly-rated app offers around 500+ asanas, 200+ guided yoga classes for everyone from beginners to masters. Coaches also facilitate workshops that will tailor to your needs and will help you stay on top of your yoga routine. The app also offers a global community to share ideas and stay updated on the latest campaigns.
Keep Yoga helps connect the mind and the body by providing more than 400 asanas and 10 yoga session plans. Real person guidance will provide detailed descriptions and will give you a deeper understanding
With 450+ yoga poses in the app, Lotus Yoga tailors your yoga work out to your focus or level of experience. There are also 100+ of yoga and pilates classes in different categories to fit your desired needs. You also have the option of creating your own programs to track your progress.
Yoga Down Dog
Down Dog provides more than 30,000 configurations so that you are not repeating the same workout. The app also focuses on relieving back pain by stretching and strengthening certain areas of the back. To enhance the user experience, Yoga Down Dog offers dynamic changing music and a different set of voices for voice-guided instruction.
Yoga Studio: Mind & Body
This app presents 170+ ready-made yoga videos along with guided meditations. But what sets Yoga Studio apart from other apps is the option to customize or create your own HD video classes. Furthermore, the smart-link feature will help transition from one pose to the next. For reference, there is a yoga library with detailed information about each pose with corresponding images.
5 Reasons Virtual Reality is Changing the Game of Medicine
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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