Healthcare and technology are integrally linked. Whenever there is a major leap in technology, patients, doctors, and hospitals usually benefit from it.

In recent years, advancements in 3D printing mean that patients can get organs without relying on a donor, telehealth solutions put rural patients in touch with providers, and AI makes it easier for doctors and nurses to categorize and organize data.

Currently, we’re experiencing a boom in augmented reality (AR) technology. While augmented reality hasn’t made its way into most hospitals just yet, it is set to revolutionize the healthcare industry from top to bottom.


Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers need to be trained to a high standard to deliver the level of service and care that patients expect. AR technology can be used during the training process to help trainees “experience” the real thing before they can work in an operating theater or hospital ward.

Yale University already uses AR to train its nurses. Yale gives students access to AR technology through tablets and QR codes that can be scanned. This clinical simulation allows patients to see different wounds on dummies and gives students a chance to interact with patients that feel more “real.”

Developer Travis McCann believes that AR can help nurses think more critically during their training process. McCann explains “It’s a way to get providers to be more empathetic,” and that “you get better results with a treatment plan with more empathy”.

Clinical simulations that leverage AR technology are much cheaper, too. Manakins that breathe, bleed, and talk costs upwards of $100,000. In comparison, a high-end AR headset costs only $3,000. Or, for further cost reduction, students can utilize tablets that typically run under $1,000 and are still integrated with AR technology that simulates clinical care.

Operating Room

The operating room is a detail-oriented environment, where data and accurate information can save lives and lead to more successful surgeries. AR can aid surgeons by helping them plan surgeries and providing an overlay of useful data during the operation.

Surgeons at the University of St. Mary’s, United Kingdom have been using AR to improve their services since 2018. AR has been particularly useful for plastic surgeons who want to prepare for reconstructive surgery before the patient comes into the operating room.

Matt Ives, a consultant plastic reconstructive and plastic surgeon, explains that real-life surgery is “not like the anatomy books.” Every patient they operate on is different, and AR can help them account for individual differences in things like the location and size of blood vessels before they put scalpel to skin.

Currently, Matt Ives’ team uses Microsoft’s HoloLens technology. HoloLens allows surgeons to see “through” a patient's leg, using AR to overlay CT scans. The CT scan is put through 3D reconstruction software to provide a user-friendly image of the patient’s leg.

Ives explains that this technology is revolutionizing the way his team works and giving patients a better service. Ives states “we're saving the patient a lot of anesthesia time,” this speeds up the entire process, meaning “we can get two patients done [. . .] where before we'd only get one done."

IoT and AR

The Internet of Things (IoT) has improved healthcare outcomes for patients around the globe. Healthcare providers that leverage the IoT can monitor patients’ vital signs, collect important health-related data, and use smart devices to communicate with patients that cannot visit the doctor’s office.

Augmented reality can enhance IoT applications by transforming data collected by IoT devices into meaningful visual representations. For example, doctors who collect biometric data using IoT devices can give patients access to AR-augmented exercise routines.

Doctors who are conducting remote consultations can use AR to virtually display the patient in the room. This can help doctors read the body language of patients and pick up on important cues that might be missed during normal remote meetings. Patients who appear as holograms in a 3D space may find it easier to advocate for themselves, too, as they are still conducting the consultation from the comfort of their own homes.

Mental Health Services

AR technology can help mental health providers connect with patients and provide better treatments for conditions like generalized anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

AR may be particularly useful for patients who are undergoing clinical psychology treatment. Clinical psychologists hold a Ph.D. or a PsyD and “perform psychological testing, diagnose mental disorders and administer therapy.” They have the most training in psychotherapy of all mental health professionals and often use a range of techniques and technology to give patients the bespoke treatment that they need.

Speculative research published in Frontiers in Psychiatrysuggests that AR can be used to “facilitate personal change when subjects are unable to move forward.” AR can replicate “real” experiences by overlaying real-life stimuli. This gives patients a “high level of personal efficacy and self-reflectiveness generated by their sense of presence and emotional engagement.”

Using AR, patients can explore triggers and past trauma in a safe, controlled environment where they feel heightened personal efficacy. This may produce “transformative experiences” for patients who otherwise struggle to connect with treatment and guidance.

Patients who are interested in AR-assisted therapy should ask their primary care provider about speculative treatments. Finding the right type of therapist can be a difficult process, but tech-savvy patients can find a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor who uses AR to better connect with their treatment.


AR is revolutionizing healthcare by giving doctors, nurses, and patients the information they need when they need it. This will reduce wait times, increase operational efficiency, and ensure remote patients get better service when they visit their primary care provider. AR can also be used during training, as augmented wounds and conditions can be replicated at a low cost and with relative ease.

Posted in:

Start a Project With Us

Submit your email below to get in touch with our team.