by adgrooms on June 10, 2019

Augmented reality (AR) is a developing field in medical education that is showing promise in enhancing medical training. Uses for AR are being developed across many disciplines to assist in learning procedures that require interaction with patients that range from conversation to surgery. So how do you determine if AR is right for your program?

One of the benefits of AR is that can help trainees learn hands-on procedures without putting anyone at risk. For instance, laparoscopic surgery is a popular AR training use. A simulated surgery can give realistic feedback and allow for repeated practice. Visual overlays can be added to guide the physician to optimal approaches to the procedure. Other complex procedures in disciplines such as neurosurgery or echocardiography can also benefit from AR training simulation giving a feel for spatial orientation encountered in a real clinical setting.

Another interesting application is patient interaction. It is rare that a learning physician already knows how to interact with the wide variety of personalities and socioeconomic backgrounds that one encounters in a clinical setting. This is knowledge that comes from experience, but similar to surgery, learning and practicing on real people in need of real help can lead to less than optimal outcomes. A physician can interact with a virtual patient to learn how to react to vocal and visual cues through different role-playing situations. This can reduce miscommunication and improve listening and interpretation skills in order to create a better patient experience and make communication less stressful for the physician.

AR is a fertile area for physicians to partner with startups and smaller companies that can develop ideas useful in medical learning. There are training systems on the market, but there is potential as technology improves for an even greater variety of learning experiences and even deeper immersive training applications. The cost of developing learning tools can pay off in better patient outcomes, more efficient procedures, and increased speed to proficiency.

AR will be growing in medical education in the foreseeable future. This growth should bring many benefits to all stakeholders in the medical community. What applications would you like to see? Who do you want to see benefit?