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How Vision Pro Could Change Healthcare

VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) headsets like Apple’s Vision Pro hold immense potential to revolutionize various aspects of healthcare. I have mentioned these technologies could improve patient care, medical training, and more in prior posts. The purpose of this post is to add some specifics.

I will focus on some of the areas where I see potential. These include patient care, enhanced diagnosis and treatment, improved patient education and engagement, remote monitoring and telemedicine, medical training and education, improved collaboration, and knowledge sharing.

In the area of patient care, enhanced diagnosis and treatment can potentially take advantage of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Vision Pro’s AR capabilities could overlay medical scans and patient data directly onto a doctor’s field of view during examinations. This could allow for a more precise understanding of a patient’s anatomy, potentially leading to improved diagnosis and treatment planning. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) could create immersive environments to help patients manage phobias and anxieties. For example, a patient with a fear of heights could undergo gradual exposure therapy in a virtual world.

When it comes to improving patient education and engagement, interactive learning with VR could have an impact. VR experiences could provide patients with a more interactive and engaging way to learn about their conditions and treatment options. Another area with potential is pain management and distraction. VR could be used to distract patients from pain during procedures or chronic pain management. AR-powered remote diagnostics also has potential. Doctors could utilize AR features to remotely examine patients and guide healthcare professionals at the patient’s location. VR/AR could facilitate more interactive and engaging telemedicine and communications and consultations between patient and doctor.

One of the big areas I see is medical training and education through immersive learning experiences. VR could create realistic simulations of medical procedures, allowing medical students and professionals to practice in a safe and controlled environment. For surgical training, surgeons could practice complex procedures in VR before performing them on real patients. Facebook has been advertising this area. They feature Dr. Anushree Baid, a resident at Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital. Dr. Baid used FundamentalVR and the Orbis International’s VR platform (a competitor to Vision Pro) for additional training in a hands-on environment. She said, “VR let me practice hundreds of times before I operated on a patient”. In the past year, Dr. Baid has performed 300 life-changing surgeries (real) to preserve her patients’ vision.

     Another medical training area will no doubt be anatomy exploration. VR can allow students to explore the human body in 3D, providing a more comprehensive understanding of anatomy. This is not a new area. I wrote about the Visible Human more than 25 years ago. What makes this more practical today is the advanced technology such as the Vision Pro. Let me share an example of real this is.

An app available only on the Apple Vision Pro allows you to meet NASA’s Perseverance Rover on a mission to explore the surface of Mars. Perseverance launched from Florida in 2020 and landed on Mars on February 18, 2021. The rover is collecting samples and analyzing the geology, atmosphere, and chemistry of Mars to search for signs of past life in and around Jezero Crater.

Version 1 of the Vision Pro app brings Perseverance into the room with you. Just by looking at key parts of the rover, you can view photographs and specifications plus learn how they contribute to the groundbreaking science of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. You can resize the rover from a small model you can rest on your lap to actual size and move it anywhere in your space. It literally fills the room. In Version 2, coming soon, you’ll be able to stand on Mars, fully immersed in the sights and sounds of our nearest planetary neighbor. Seeing this will make you a believer in the medical training possibilities. I am bullish on this.

 Another area is improved collaboration and knowledge sharing. VR/AR could enable medical professionals from different locations to collaborate remotely on complex cases or training sessions. VR simulations could ensure consistent and standardized training experiences for medical professionals.

VR/AR technology is still evolving, and the cost of high-quality headsets might be a barrier for some healthcare institutions. As VR/AR integrates with patient data, robust measures are crucial to ensure privacy and security. Developing user-friendly and comfortable headsets is essential for widespread adoption in healthcare settings. The Apple Vision Pro weighs 1.5 pounds. I don’t mind the weight for an hour or so, but much more than that makes me very aware of the weight.

Overall, VR and AR technologies like Vision Pro offer exciting possibilities for the future of healthcare. By enhancing diagnosis and treatment, improving patient education, and revolutionizing medical training, VR/AR has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes and the overall healthcare experience.

Read about advanced technology in healthcare in Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare.

Note: I use Gemini AI and other AI chatbots as my research assistants. AI could boost productivity for anyone who creates content. Sometimes I get incorrect data from AI, and when something looks suspicious, I dig deeper. Sometimes the data varies by sources where AI finds it. I take responsibility for my posts and if anyone spots an error, I will appreciate knowing it, and will correct it.