Healthcare’s Next Frontier: Care Powered by Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR) have potential to transform the way healthcare is delivered while simultaneously improving the consumer and provider experience.

Adoption of this technology has been high in industries like gaming, entertainment and retail—leading to a new age of interactive consumer experiences. Industries like healthcare, education and real estate are now tapping into the vast potential of this technology to transform consumer experience.

Healthcare organizations have significantly increased their investments in modern technology and are improving interoperability, making it the ideal time to take the leap and create AR & VR powered applications for patients and providers.

Let’s take a look at the marketing trends that are ushering in the adoption of this technology, and some of the recent advancements associated with it, as it relates to healthcare.

AR & VR Market Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic boosted adoption of this technology as the need for remote capabilities like collaboration in work environments, education, entertainment events, retail, finance and healthcare services significantly increased. Here are a few trends.

  • $12 billion (US) was the spend on AR & VR headsets, software, and services in 2020. That’s 50% more than the spend on the same technology in 2019.
  • The healthcare market for this technology, valued at $769.2 million in 2017, is expected to reach a staggering $5 billion by 2023.
  • AR was the most popular immersive technology with 93.3 million users versus 58.9 million VR users in the U.S. in 2021.
  • According to an industry report, by the end of 2023, AR users in the U.S. are expected to reach 110.1 million and VR users are expected to reach 65.9 million.

These trends are making healthcare industry leaders employ AR & VR technology to improve wellness and manage population health & diagnosis to enhance member experience.

The Challenges With AR & VR Technology

Despite promising potential, application of this technology in healthcare has been limited due to the regulatory landscape and siloed healthcare systems. Organizations have struggled with the availability of and access to vital infrastructure, compatibility issues with AR & VR software with other healthcare software, electronic medical records compatibility issues and privacy concerns.  

Challenges in adoption are compounded due to a lack of essential hardware such as a universal headset, proprietary headset designs and lack of standards. Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry and that means strict security and compliance standards need to be adhered to by all stakeholders.

Why Continued Investment in AR and VR Technology Is Important for Healthcare Organizations

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased investments in virtual care and AR & VR technology in healthcare.

Industry leaders, both payers and providers are seeing the tangible benefits of this technology in enhancing remote patient monitoring, inpatient and outpatient medical procedures, care coordination and enhanced diagnosis.

The rollout of 5G technology will only make the case for investing in AR & VR capabilities stronger in the coming years. Organizations that strengthen their existing IT infrastructure to support this will be able to stay ahead of the curve and provide the best member, patient, and provider experience.

Meanwhile, the metaverse—which entails a virtual world—has been in the limelight recently and different use cases involving the metaverse are being explored across several industries like gaming, e-commerce, entertainment, and remote work.

The metaverse is said to have potential to revolutionize these industries. However, conversations around the application of the metaverse in healthcare are sparse.

The metaverse is a logical extension of the AR & VR capabilities which are beginning to see the light of day in the healthcare ecosystem.

The Future of Healthcare

The future of healthcare looks exciting. The latest technology offers us the potential to positively impact the industry. And AR & VR technology is playing a key role in this as it changes how consumers interact with the healthcare ecosystem.

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