By 2020, it’s predicted that 171 million Americans will be living with some form of chronic disease. By this time, a shortage of 100,000 physicians could also hit our medical systems hard, and healthcare workers on every level are already looking for ways to keep up. As technology has influenced medical advancements in the past, new innovations are stepping up to help bridge this gap before it gets too wide. Surgeries, hospital visits, even simple check-ups will never be the same.
Virtual reality capabilities have already shown to be indispensable tools for a multitude of industries. From entertainment and beyond, as VR tech continues to develop so does its practical applications. MedStar Health, operating 10 hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington area, already takes advantage of AR as training simulators for emergency room staff and other first responders. One study revealed that 93% of radiologists who viewed images of arteries in a 3D VR environment were more confident in their real-life diagnoses later on. For patients immersion in virtual worlds has been shown to lower levels of pain and anxiety, helping those with both physical and mental stress. Exposure therapy using VR helps patients to work through traumatic situations and manage mental health all in a controlled and safe environment. In the next five years, the value of VR itself within medicine and healthcare is expected to grow from $8.9 million to $285 million.
Healthcare tech doesn’t just stop at VR, though. Artificial intelligence is also making big moves as a diagnostic and treatment tool from strokes to skin cancers. 3D printing presence in hospitals has grown 3200% between 2010 and 2016, helping create prosthetics and custom medications. Even attitudes towards robot-assisted surgeries are changing as the technology keeps improving and promotes minimally invasive procedures. Take a look at this infographic from Online Medical Care for more detail on the new tools of the trade, what it will mean for doctors and patients alike, and visions for the future of healthcare.