Mixed Reality for Healthcare: Experiences from a Training Perspective

Mixed Reality for Healthcare: Experiences from a Training Perspective

Mention training in medical education and most people picture classroom courses or e-learning seminars. But training should be more: it should be a learning concept that attracts participants to remember what they have spent the time to learn whilst providing the trainers with and efficient way to teach. Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality's bring  new possibilities to attract students to learn, and to provide information to the trainers and organizers. This will help to increase the quality of trainings in the future.

Difference of Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality

Before a discussion can start about medical content for Mixed Reality, it is necessary to first clarify the term “Mixed Reality”. You will find different definitions for Mixed Reality (MR), often in close relation to Augmented Reality (AR). With Augmented Reality you are able to attach digital information like texts, videos, sounds, graphics or 3D models to real objects.

Mixed Reality Training Digital Hospital

In Mixed Reality, holographic objects are projected into the real world to create a hybrid of the two. Both the virtual and real objects can coexist together or the virtual elements can overlay the real world entirely.

Mixed Reality is ready – content is missing

There are already plenty of low and high content apps for different medical applications featuring Augmented Reality in operation. You will also find many companies internationally that are creating 3D medical content for AR. However, this content is predominantly only being used on smartphones and tablets.

When you start to look for medical content for Mixed Reality, nearly nothing can be found so far. The main reason might be that are only a few readily available Mixed Reality devices on the market such as the Microsoft HoloLens or the Meta 2 from the Silicon Valley tech company Meta.

Need for more medical apps

Working with the HoloLens in the medical field opened my eyes to the possibilities for medical providers and patients alike. I quickly started to get more information about available medical content for Mixed Reality technologies and I haven't stoped looking. Even though there are already a few specific medical apps available for the HoloLens, e.g. HoloHeart and HoloAnatomy (Microsoft) or Insight Heart (AnimaRes) with impressive visualizations, there is much more potential for the content. Exactly this has lead to medical software platform providers such as 3D4MEDICAL to develop Mixed Reality solutions for anatomy training in a project called “Esper”.

PulsioFlexAR - a training application for the digital hospital

This lack of content lead us to create our own Hololens app, the result can be watched here:

To create this HoloLens application I found a great partner and supporter in the company RE´FLEKT. When looking for partners to create customized medical content for Mixed Reality, you might be astonished to discover the significant differences in costs and time for content creation. In this project, I was happy to find a solution that could be scabbily built up for future growth in a cost and time effective way.

Mixed reality – future of medical education

After video gaming, Goldman Sachs expects the biggest growth potential in Virtual Reality to be in the health care sector. This should already be a crucial argument for more companies to focus here. Creating specific medical content for Mixed Reality is already possible with a certain budget and I hope to see more 3D medical animation companies offering Mixed Reality content in the near future. This technology will definitely become a part of the standard medical education and also a helpful tool in certain medical applications.

If you have similar experiences with this topic, it would be great to share your thoughts and ideas!

About the author

Already during her PhD in natural science at the Technical University Munich, Martina Reiter was working as trainer for laboratory courses. After she finished her doctoral thesis, she founded a biotechnology start-up company to offer lab trainings and services together with her doctoral advisor. The last 12 years Martina Reiter was working as training and project manager in life science and medical device industry.

Interested to find out more about AR improving training on healthcare equipment?