As AR matures and becomes more affordable and user-friendly, more life sciences companies should consider its use as an essential tool to communicate, educate, and engage HCPs and patients on innovations that will improve outcomes.
More life sciences companies are using augmented reality (AR) to bring new therapies to life by combining virtual and physical worlds. Augmented Reality In Healthcare helps create rich, interactive experiences that show how new drugs and medical devices interact with the body. Using this disruptive technology, brand teams and content providers can give their field force a better way to engage healthcare professionals (HCPs). AR can also allow HCPs to be more illustrative when explaining new treatments to patients.
Whether explaining a disease state, treatment method, or how a new medical device works, AR can significantly enhance customer engagement, improve education on complex topics, and create differentiation with more powerful branding.
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
AR and virtual reality (VR), though often linked together in discussions, are not the same. AR adds virtual objects that enhance the real world. In contrast, VR is an immersive experience in a simulated world.
AR is also considered less cumbersome than VR, which requires specialized hardware, headsets, and a learning curve. AR applications, on the other hand, run on familiar devices such as iPads and combine situational and sensorial perceptions to create a learning experience without any additional equipment. More significantly, AR is increasingly accessible on smartphones to gain popularity over VR.
In healthcare, industry analysts predict the global AR market to grow at a sizable 23 percent compound annual rate from 2017 to 2023. Already, AR is used in areas such as patient and doctor education, surgical visualization, and disease simulation to enhance patient treatments and outcomes. For example, one AR application maps a patient’s body, showing the exact location of veins so medical staff can hit the mark the first time when drawing blood or starting an IV prior to surgery. Another AR application reconstructs tumors in 3D so surgeons can view X-rays in real-time without radiation exposure. One function constructs 3D visuals of organs from different angles for greater precision in stitches.
AR technology also helps increase learning retention and understanding for doctors and patients by presenting complex ideas in interactive formats. For instance, one global pharmaceutical company uses a 3D heart modeling application to demonstrate the movement of medicine through the organ and its effects as part of a new treatment. Both HCPs and patients can better understand the science by seeing how it works in the body with AR. To create greater empathy and comprehension of a patient’s disease, one application simulates the effects of degenerative eye disease.