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What Can Augmented Reality Bring to Medical Students?

Strap on your goggles and join us as we delve into the world of augmented reality—new, improved—and ostensibly better for medical students and the profession. Let’s take a closer look at 5 ways augmented reality benefits medical students.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Student Tips
What Can Augmented Reality Bring to Medical Students?

First of all, what is augmented reality (AR)? Well—it’s not virtual. It does not replace one reality for another. Instead, it’s a reality enhanced—or augmented—by computer-generated input, like sound, video, graphics, and GPS. While the information may be virtual, you interact with it in the real world, in real time.

What do you need? Input, output, and a way to view both. Usually goggles.

Why are doctors excited? With AR goggles and AR apps, physicians can have X-ray vision. By wearing AR headsets, surgeons can see a patient’s organs in three dimensions, overlaid on their body—without making an incision. Med students can study anatomy. Patients can understand their diseases—and physicians can figure out the best way to show them. Communication improves between doctor and patient.

How can augmented reality help medical students? Let’s take a look at five ways augmented reality benefits medical students—and the profession.

Doctor use the computer with nurse, concept of medical consulting

1. Improved Teaching

Imagine walking into your gross anatomy class, and instead of smelling embalming fluid and working with surgical tools, you don a pair of AR goggles and get to work.

At Case Western, students new to campus will use Microsoft’s Hololens, an AR anatomy teaching tool that allows wearers to see a 3D representation of the human body and navigate through layers of skin, muscle, bone, blood vessels, and organs to see how the body works. Students can walk around it, through it, and over and under it. And that’s just the beginning.

Surgery, Surgeon, Surgical Mask.

2. Risk-Free practice

Wait… nothing is risk-free. But the risks of making a mistake are fewer with AR technology in medicine. How? Surgeons can use AR technology to lay out step-by-step procedures in real-time and project relevant medical data onto the patient—without making an incision. Surgeons will be able to “practice” on their patients before they do the real thing. The benefit? Less mistakes. There’s always risk.

Senior Patient Having Consultation With Doctor In Office

3. Better Symptom Descriptions

Ever find yourself in the doctor’s office unable to explain your symptoms accurately? Patients will now be able to give a better description of their symptoms with augmented reality. How? Apps like EyeDecide can help doctors simulate different eye problems for patients—which will allow patients to identify which set of symptoms matches theirs. With other apps like it on the horizon, specialists to general internists will have tools to help patients describe—and demonstrate—how they’re feeling. The benefit? Better treatment. See #4.

two scientist looking at tablet and working on pharmaceutical experiments

4. Better Drug Descriptions

If you’ve tried to understand how a drug works by reading the label, you understand—it’s tough. With AR technology, doctors can show patients how certain drugs work in the body. This application benefits doctors, nurses, patients, pharmacists—anyone involved in drug treatments for illnesses. By having access to better drug descriptions, patients will have a clearer understanding of how the drugs they take can work—and why.

Doctor in futuristic medical concept pressing button

5. Democratization of Medical Education

What’s it all about? Accessibility. Connection. Engagement.

When patients can gain access to their diseases and treatments through AR, they can level the playing field between their doctors and themselves—and be a part of their own treatment. Yes—patients have a voice and AR can help them find it.

With AR, physicians can help their patients visualize their disease and its treatment—and their role in it. The beauty of it? Physicians can tailor their use of AR to a patient’s desires. The more technical information a patient wants, the patient can have—but for those patients who just want to understand what’s happening on a non-technical level, a physician’s appropriate use of AR can do that, too.

Find out more about medical technology.