Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that integrates interactive virtual content with the physical real world, such as in the form of a digital three-dimensional visual (3D) representation, thereby augmenting the perception of reality. Typically, virtual content is projected into the physical environment through the use of smart glasses, a headset or mobile/tablet device (1, 2, 3). AR is one of the most exciting technological advances in medicine and healthcare in recent times, with many novel applications being developed for use in improving patient outcomes. This includes, but is not limited to, the implementation of AR in surgery, rehabilitation, therapies and medical education.
AR is becoming a powerful educational tool which can considerably enhance healthcare professionals’ and students’ learning experiences. A primary example of how AR has been incorporated into medical education is its use in enhancing the learning of human anatomy. HoloAnatomy© is one such example; a software that enables users to learn from and interact with highly immersive 3D visual representations of any anatomical structure and system of the human body, in both physiological and pathophysiological contexts, via an AR headset called HoloLens (4).
Being able to visualise human anatomy through AR brings several advantages: for example, the software allows for users to visualise and examine parts of the body which would otherwise be very difficult, or impossible, to do through traditional methods such as via a textbook or traditional dissection. Users can visualise anatomical structures in isolation from surrounding tissues that support them, which could be destroyed or distorted if they were to be isolated in dissection – one example of this is the lymphatic system which is highly complex and delicate. Augmented reality headsets are compact and highly portable, meaning they can be used anywhere. Participants without headsets can still follow along using streaming software, so everyone can benefit from the technology. And AR experiences don’t have to happen at a single location: users with headsets can follow along with an AR demonstration from anywhere in the world, so a speaker in the US can direct physicians in the UK, Japan, Brazil and Kenya (for example) all at the same time. There are also many learning formats to choose, allowing users to follow a speaker directing the model manipulation, or giving them a chance to directly interact with the model themselves – an absolutely invaluable educational tool.
Cost-saving is another huge benefit of using AR. The cost of equipping attendees with an AR-enabled headset pales in comparison to having to book out and set up operating theatres, fly in speakers or attendees, pay for meals, and other associated costs.
Here at The Corpus we are actively working on ways to implement AR technology into our own medical education meetings. We are currently developing a programme incorporating AR into a stroke management educational series, using the technology to help physicians interpret emerging imaging techniques and translating standard 2D images into 3D representations that are contextually more understandable. As a company we are constantly looking at how we can innovate and bring doctors a truly unique learning experience.
If you are interested in sponsoring a distinct medical education initiative that attendees will remember for years to come, get in touch with us today via firstname.lastname@example.org and book in a consultation!
Together, we can deliver medical education where it is needed most.
Kamphuis C et al. Perspectives on Medical Education 2016; 3(4):300-311
Parsons D and MacCallum K. Advances in Medical Education and Practice 2021; 12:77-91
Dhar P et al. Medical Education Online 2021; 26(1): 1953953
Other useful links:
HoloAnatomy - https://case.edu/holoanatomy/why-holoanatomyr