Augmented Reality in Healthcare: Applications and Benefits

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Have you ever wanted to practice surgery on a patient without having to open them up? Have you ever imagined seeing a patient’s heartbeat rather than just listening to it? Have you ever wanted to project a clinical case during a consult rather than stepping in on a patient?

There are few medical providers who wouldn’t be excited by these prospects. This kind of healthcare technology will help providers and students visualize medical data. And, it even has the potential to reduce medical errors.

Augmented reality in healthcare is coming soon, whether we’re ready or not. Plenty of interactive technologies have already started transforming patient care, and more are coming out.

To learn more about AR in healthcare, keep reading. We have everything you need to know about the technological revolution.

How Augmented Reality in Healthcare Has Changed Over Time

The history of augmented reality began around the early 1900s. The first recorded instance of AR came about in 1901 with the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. In this story, the author talks about the existence of electronic glasses that overlay data on sights in real life.

It wasn’t until 1968 that the first piece of AR technology came about. At that time, Ivan Sutherland developed and launched a piece of technology that remotely resembled augmented reality.

The technology was a head-mounted display that allows its users to have a look at the virtual world. It is similar to AR glasses that we’re familiar with today.

In 1975, Myron Krueger launched Videoplace. This was an AR laboratory that allowed visitors to interact with virtual objects.

In the 1990s, the term “augmented reality” became official and the first prototype hit the news.

The 2000s marked the development of the first AR games. The idea of AR really gained speed in 2013 when Google announced Google Glass. The next biggest development came about in 2016 when Nintendo and Niantic released Pokemon Go.

Behind all of this history, healthcare professionals have been forming their own examples and applications for augmented reality.

How Providers Are Using AR in Healthcare

Augmented reality in healthcare focuses on the betterment of the patient-provider relationship. Developers of healthcare technology are focusing on creating items that providers can use to better understand and better care for their patients.

Despite the recent developments in AR, healthcare professionals have been using AR for a few years. And, all of these projects that we’re going to discuss have gone onto help providers and patients. The successful development of these AR technologies has permanently changed the healthcare field.


HoloLens is an AR technology that Microsoft produced. This technology allows its users to use an AR headset to interact with virtual models, environments, and holograms.

From this invention, Microsoft made and released HoloAnatomy. This is a kind of interactive learning technology that allows healthcare professionals to evaluate human anatomy via a holographic image.


AccuVein, also known as AV400, projects light over human skin. With this light, nurses and other healthcare providers can see human veins. This makes it easier for these professionals to collect blood and insert intravenous catheters.

Veins sticks can be difficult especially in anemic patients. Using AccuVein can decrease the number of sticks that healthcare providers need to do on their patients. It can also decrease the number of incidents that can occur while healthcare professionals are trying to find a vein.

AED4EU Application

The AED4EU app helps people find defibrillators in the area. So, if there’s an emergency, you can use the application to find an AED machine.

You can also use the app to record a defibrillator that you’ve found in the area. The more AED machines recorded, the more lives users can save.


VA-ST is a kind of AR technology that hasn’t been finalized yet. However, it is showing great promise in the medical field.

VA-ST is a host for a bunch of different medical AR applications. The most popular application is wearable technology to improve eyesight. The group that developed the technology is even working on preparing a pair of wearables that can help the blind see.

Augmented Reality Applications in Healthcare

Augmented reality in healthcare is still relatively new. Despite all of the great advancements in medical AR thus far, there is still a long way to go. In fact, the road to augmented reality is endless.

All of this software is great, but how can healthcare professionals actually use it?

Those examples of augmented reality in healthcare show through in all kinds of ways. From training to sales, there are plenty of applications for this kind of healthcare technology.


Telemedicine has slowly progressed in popularity among the healthcare community. With the recent pandemic, online advancements and digital transformations have sped faster than they would have originally. Thus, the shift in focus towards telemedicine has quickened.

With this, healthcare professionals are working on ways to improve telemedicine. These appointments are easy for generic appointments, but they aren’t useful when physicians need to perform physical examinations.

Some researchers are hoping that augmented reality can change that. In particular, medical researchers are looking for ways that physicians can evaluate patients without them having to be in person.

This is one way that augmented reality can shine in everyday medical proceedings.


Augmented reality would also be useful for surgeons.

First, healthcare professionals could evaluate and practice patient cases before having to open the patient up. Using data from imaging, AR technologies can compose the patient’s body holographically.

Thus, the surgeon and other surgical staff can look over the surgery as if the patient were actually already open on the table. This is especially useful for more complicated surgeries.

Second, we can apply surgical AR solutions in educational settings. Most medical specialties involve completing medical procedures, even if they aren’t surgical procedures. Using medical AR to visualize medical data can make it easier for students to learn and understand concepts that they need to learn before practicing on patients.

Lastly, AR in surgical training with minimize and eventually remove the need for cadavers in medical training.

Healthcare Training

Speaking of medical training, medical AR can do much more than help with surgeries. Augmented reality allows students to visualize all kinds of medical data in three dimensions.

Looking at the human body in a textbook doesn’t give students the information that they need to learn adequately enough to start seeing patients. In fact, many students don’t feel that they have a good enough grasp on things like medical anatomy. Even if students do have access to three-dimensional models, they aren’t getting the benefits of manipulation and change that they could get with AR in healthcare.

The training advantages go beyond medical school.

Phlebotomists can use this technology to practice blood draws. Nurses can use it to teach patients about their bodies. Imaging technologists can use it to position patients correctly.

There are endless applications.


AR even helps with pharmaceuticals. Physicians and nurses can use the technology to teach their patients about taking medications. Furthermore, they can display how underdosing or overdosing on these medications could harm them.

This healthcare technology is especially useful when it comes to non-compliant patients.

AR can also help those people who are training in pharmaceuticals. Students who are in pharmacy school need to understand how different drugs impact the body, and these technologies can help them understand more clearly.

By running simulations and offering different medication dosages, pharmaceutical students can learn the ins and outs of every medication. Even better, they can use that technology to educate patients who don’t have the same medical training.

Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing are the last things that any provider is worried about. However, AR has many applications when it comes to this part of healthcare.

First off, augmented reality offers experiential marketing. This means that customers can try different medical products before investing in them. Rather than telling the customers all the great things that they can expect with the product, you can let them try it out for themselves.

AR provides an amazing three-dimensional viewpoint to look at medical technologies. This eliminates the need for tours, too. Physicians and managers can look at medical technologies without having to leave their practice.

Even better, the AR technology allows potential buyers to manipulate the technology and even see it in action virtually. There are many ways that these users can manipulate the technology so that they can see what it will look like and work like in person.

Next, we have to talk about AR SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a must for any public entity, including medical buildings. Your medical office/hospital should already be using SEO to increase your search result placement on search engines.

Beyond simple SEO, there’s AR SEO. This may sound like some kind of futuristic technology, but it’s already here.

For some shops and restaurants, potential customers can point their phones at the building. In response to the visual stimulus, phones can bring up all kinds of information on the building, including the most recent reviews.

Lastly, there’s VR storytelling. While few hospitals have been able to use this technology, these hospitals have been extremely successful with it.

Mostly, this technology can help patients who are unsure or unsteady about their hospital visit. Naturally, physicians mostly use the technology for young children who may not understand what’s happening.

They can see what’s happening to them while they’re in the patient room, in surgery, in pre-op, and more. It helps both pediatric and adult patients understand what’s going on without having to imagine it for themselves.

Why You Should Prepare for Medical AR

Everyone is waiting for AR in medicine to grow. Eventually, it will become the norm.

But, for right now, it’s just a wish. Although, it’s a wish that over 50% of physicians hope comes true.

Because of the interest in AR and the push from medical providers in the community, every medical office and hospital should be preparing for augmented reality in their facilities. Not only will it revolutionize patient care and provider training, but it will also change the way that we all practice medicine as a whole.

1. Augmented Reality Can Improve Patient Care

One of the most common patient frustrations occurs when doctors are unsure about a diagnosis. Medicine has advanced greatly, but it’s still not perfect. Sometimes, doctors just don’t know.

This uncertainty in medicine can cause a rift in the patient-physician relationship, and it has been done so many times.

With AR, doctors will be able to diagnose more conditions faster. And, they’ll be able to show patients the changes that these conditions are making to their bodies.

2. Augmented Reality Can Help Providers Visualize Patients

Augmented reality allows physicians to get a better look at the patient’s insides. They can see exactly what’s going on and where it’s happening.

With this information, we’ll have fewer exploratory surgeries and more precise ones. Plus, we can use this information to empower the patients as well.

Patients want to learn more about their health. And, by using AR, providers can show them exactly how their bodies are working.

3. Augmented Reality Can Decrease the Rate of Medical Errors

One of the greatest advantages to AR in healthcare is the decrease in medical errors. With more precise information, doctors can make more accurate assessments. Therefore, there will be fewer medical errors.

This means that there will be fewer complications in surgeries, fewer misdiagnoses, fewer undiagnosed individuals, and more. The move into this kind of healthcare technology will be revolutionary.

Investing in Healthcare Technology

Augmented reality in healthcare may seem like a dream, but it’s much closer than you may think it is. With technologies growing across the entire world, it’s just a matter of time until your clinic or hospital ends up with them.

Once that day comes, you and your staff will see just how advantageous these medical technologies can be for patients and providers alike.

If you’re interested in getting a head start on this kind of healthcare technology, check out XR Doctor today. We can’t wait to show you the things that we’re working on.

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