Quick Q&A: What artificial and virtual reality mean for healthcare

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September 10, 2018

PwC Health Research Institute: 

How could virtual reality (VR) and artificial reality (AR) be used in healthcare? 

Ian Bonnet, PwC managing director

Ian Bonnet, PwC managing director:

"There are some use cases where either virtual reality or augmented reality or mixed reality have already been leveraged, particularly around education. Historically you would use a cadaver to educate a student. Now you can actually use a 3D or virtual reality or augmented reality image for the student to interact with.

There is another solution that we already created that uses augmented reality to interact with large data sets. Think about a pivot table in a spreadsheet where you have 16 different variables and you want to turn them on or off. We’ve actually used AR to create a visualization of that so you can use your hands and you can interact with a scatter chart, for example, in three dimensions and move the chart around, and multiple people can interact with it at the same time and even from different locations.

It’s an evolution of how you interact with data but is done in a way that enriches the experience of actually interacting with data, and because you are able to interact with it in three dimensions, it even stimulates thought and ideas around how best to interpret the data.

There is another one: Think about a medical provider company, and the field service technician goes out to service a piece of a medical device or a piece of machinery. Perhaps they are getting trained on it, or perhaps they are selling it. At the same time, they are wearing an augmented reality headset that overlays instructions on how to fix or use the device right onto it in real time. So as opposed to looking at a paper manual, it can save time.

There are some emerging applications of virtual reality to help patients with PTSD or anxiety disorder where you are immersed in a situation that actually removes that anxiety. For diabetes patients, we actually built out a kind of a form of augmented reality that shows patients how to use an injectable product properly."

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Trine K. Tsouderos

HRI Regulatory Center Leader, PwC US

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