Augmented reality goes by many names and has many different faces. Most people use a form of augmented reality every day without realizing it, from Snapchat to Pokemon Go, AR is a thriving technology which offers a plethora of diverse learning opportunities. Although AR creates an engaging, immersive and entertaining environment within the gaming atmosphere, AR is coming to the forefront in education, healthcare and healthcare education. To achieve more situational experiences within healthcare, we are starting to see the use of simulations through an AR lens, as AR creates a unique learning environment. Unlike virtual reality, the AR user does not lose touch with reality, therefore “it puts information into eyesight as fast as possible” (Augmented Reality In Healthcare Will Be Revolutionary, 2014), which allows this software to become a force to be reckoned with in the future of medicine.

I have had some experience with AR in the form of learning modules and training scenarios through my time with Alberta Health Services, as well as my current role at Bow Valley College and both were completely different from each other. From an educational standpoint, I found it informative and insightful as the simulation went through possible learning outcomes and lesson plans for instruction. From a nursing lens, I found I was a little more overwhelmed because a simulation can pose options, but one can never be prepared for a person’s true reaction or the ramifications of what would happen from bad practice or lack of knowledge. Research of AR within healthcare does exist, but because research within this field is still in the infancy stage (Zhu, 2014), it can be hard to see what all the benefits and positive outcomes are.

The research that is available shows that participants readily accept AR as a learning technology, which improves learning effectiveness by “acquisition of skills and knowledge, understanding of spatial relationships and medical concepts, enhancing learning retention and performance on cognitive-psychomotor tasks, providing material in a convenient and timely manner that shortens the learning curve, giving subjective attractiveness, and simulating authentic experiences” (Zhu, 2014). I would like to examine what varieties of AR are offered in the healthcare field, specifically when using tele-health/tele-medicine, and what the outcomes are from a patient perspective. If it offers all the great benefits mentioned, it should be readily available to everyone. It is easy for me to throw on my nursing hat and say how beneficial I found AR scenarios by learning therapeutic approaches and appropriate nursing protocols, but how does this relate to patients and how they feel they were treated? During this pandemic, we are beginning to see a growth of phone consultations with Doctors and Specialists, but is there a more advanced technology that could be applied? What barriers would there be to introducing AR for patient health and education?

If a patient were to be going in for surgery, would it not be best to enter an AR simulation, opposed to googling the procedure and potentially being too scared or nervous to attend? Exhibiting symptoms and going through a checklist could make someone overwhelmed, but hearing or seeing what the actual ailment is, could ease their mind. If we continue to offer AR for the advances in healthcare education: “the benefit that AR can bring to the healthcare industry can be groundbreaking and we are just witnessing the beginning of what is to come from AR in the field of medicine” (Sanchez, n.d), would it not be beneficial to offer a form of this to the general public?

References

Augmented Reality In Healthcare Will Be Revolutionary: 9 Examples. (2019). Retrieved from: https://medicalfuturist.com/augmented-reality-in-healthcare-will-be-revolutionary/

Sanchez, J. (n.d.). Augmented Reality in Healthcare. Retrieved from https://www.plugandplaytechcenter.com/resources/augmented-reality-healthcare/

Zhu E, Hadadgar A, Masiello I, Zary N. 2014Augmented reality in healthcare education: an integrative reviewPeerJ 2:e469 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.469