Medicine and transformation in technology

By Dewi Amira Dania

Everyday technology is improving and evolving to help make our lives easier and allows us to utilise the 24 hours in a day to our greatest capacity.

As technology evolved, so has the healthcare professionals’ ability to treat patients at a greater rate and with minimised errors. Advanced technology such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and robotic surgery have raised the quality of patient care and satisfaction. 

Virtual reality is a type of technology that forms an environment that is simulated forming an artificial environment. Users need to use electronic devices, for example, goggles, a helmet or other devices, in order to interact realistically within their virtual environment.

Virtual reality allows the inside of the human body to be viewed using technology, this is helpful in showing patients in detail their surgical plan and in forming surgeries, according to the Visualise website. This allows patients to have a much clearer understanding of their treatment.

Virtual reality is also used to help surgeons in training practice for operations. Moreover, virtual reality has been used in a support group for young cancer patients by Dr. Asher Marks, an Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at Yale School of Medicine and Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program at Yale New Haven Hospital. They were given headsets and asked to join an immersive chat room to mingle with other patients and a social worker, where they could discuss their conditions comfortably leading to better survival rates and improved depression, claims Belli.

Other researchers in Yale are adopting Extended Reality (XR) technologies (composing virtual, extended, and mixed reality) to create a comfortable setting for young and adolescent patients.

Augmented reality is a kind of technology that combines digital information with a user’s environment. For Eckert et al, augmented reality is used in planning surgeries, in treating patients, and it assists in simplifying complex situations to patients. According to Georgiou, surgeons can enter data from CT scans and MRIs to the augmented reality headset in order to study their patients’ anatomy before surgery by visualising the organs.

Augmented reality is different from virtual reality as it does not cause users to lose touch with reality and it puts real information into sight immediately. A simple example of augmented reality is the game Pokémon Go and an example of virtual reality is a 3D movie. 

Robotic surgery is a form of surgery that is performed using a robot that is controlled by a human being. For Mayo Clinic, robotic surgery allows minimally invasive surgeries to be performed. Compared to traditional surgeries, robotic surgeries allow for better accuracy and faster recovery time. Just a few of its other advantages are it allows for significantly decreased pain and less risk of infection and blood loss. During a robotic surgery, surgeons are also allowed to sit down the whole duration, hence reducing fatigue and minimising errors. 

As we innovate new ways on decreasing human errors and increasing patient care, the world of medicine will be ever evolving with the advent of technology.***

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