Looking for ways to introduce innovative solutions to the healthcare industry, startup founders often consider augmented or virtual reality. Before we dive into the details of implementing AR/VR apps, let’s explain the essence of both AR and VR in healthcare as well as the difference between them:
The concept of AR & VR apps in healthcare is not different from their entertainment-oriented counterparts. What separates them is the context and the goal. Imagine Pokémon GO, but instead of locating fictional creatures on the streets, you hover the phone over your patient’s arm to reveal their veins. Similarly, you can have a virtual reality-based adventure, but its goal is not to entertain you, it’s to treat PTSD utilizing exposure therapy.
These are just two examples of healthcare apps for patients and medical professionals, but the opportunity is much broader.
"As the new year approaches and we can anticipate the popularity of virtual reality to rise, so will more companies with virtual reality solutions."
Aspiring medical professionals can study anatomy and practice their craft on virtual patients, but augmented reality healthcare apps are not just for future doctors. Experienced medical staff members are also able to benefit from AR/VR training when prepping for complex surgical procedures or learning new techniques.
Augmented reality headsets are used to provide specialists with valuable information during their medical procedures. Headsets, as well as handheld AR devices (like the vein locator mentioned earlier), can enhance the speed and quality of medical care in and out of hospitals.
Virtual reality apps can serve as an effective distraction from painful or anxiety-inducing procedures. From comforting kids at the dentist to easing the labor pains, VR can increase the level of comfort for the patients, while enabling the personnel to focus on their job.
Telemedicine (the remote diagnosis and treatment) can also greatly benefit from AR & VR apps. The challenge of telemedicine is to communicate effectively, as the correct diagnosis depends on receiving precise information from patients and interpreting them in the right way. Augmented reality technology allows mapping the source of the pain or other symptoms with high accuracy.
Virtual experiences prove to be an engaging and promising way of providing physical therapy or neuromotor rehabilitation. Patients can exercise in virtual environments designed to fit their particular problems and help them regain abilities lost due to injuries, stroke, or other conditions.
Providing remote psychotherapy sessions is not a new concept. VR-powered apps, however, provide a sense of realism that traditional means of telecommunication simply cannot achieve. Immersing patients in different virtual scenarios allows them to practice their reactions to different circumstances.
We’ve already mentioned the benefits of software prototyping in our guide to fostering innovation in healthcare apps. Still, if you’re working on an AR/VR app, this stage is absolutely fundamental. Not everything you set out to build can be achieved with the current state of technology: prototyping is the easiest and the cheapest way to find a feasible way to translate your idea into a functioning product.
Speaking of costs, they will definitely depend on the scope of your project, but you can create a simple AR prototype for less than $10k. More elaborate products can be prototyped for up to $20k. How does it compare with the costs of building a functioning mobile app? You can expect to pay a few times more to develop the MVP of your mobile healthcare app. Building a full version of your app will most likely require a $100k+ investment in terms of product design and software development.
AR and VR-powered apps have been gaining popularity for a couple of years now, so it’s probably not surprising that there are several technologies that make it possible to build immersive mobile apps faster. At Apptension, we stand by the following tools:
Forecasts confirm that the market for AR/VR healthcare apps is growing fast (CAGR 36.1%). At this rate, it’s expected to reach $10.82 billion by 2025. Out of the two technologies, augmented reality grows faster and has a larger market share.