Virtual reality in medicine and EMS


With VR technology becoming more accessible, virtual and augmented reality have found plenty uses in healthcare and EMS, from training tools to treating patients.

Until recently, much education in healthcare had to be performed based on the example of either real bodies or special dolls, with the obvious disadvantage of not representing a real scenario accurately while access was also limited. Today, technology can make medical training much more effective: As one example, virtual reality is a more efficient way to share information and to display a surgery simulation without potentially harming a patient.

Virtual assistance can also be used in the EMS sector: As an example, the Red Cross is already cooperating with major VR companies to improve the training of paramedics by using a virtual reality platform. Through the use of this technology, standard processes can therefore be taught in theory and yet in a practical manner. Already planned is a 3D model of a patient, with the development already under way.

In addition, with augmented reality, doctors or students can more easily assess risk during a procedure, using simulated data imported from sensors. There are also video streaming and patient navigation apps that help doctors’ control real-life and remote surgeries from distance as well.

Next to that. with the current threat of pandemics, a high-tech helmet is used in various countries: The central function is to measure the temperature of passers-by at a distance of approximately 2 metres, to detect people who have a body temperature and are possibly infected with COVID-19. The helmet is equipped with an augmented reality display in the field of vision, an infrared camera and a conventional video camera – the wearer of the helmet is thus shown the body temperature of passers-by with an accuracy of 0.3 degrees.

Last but not least, E-mental health programs are already used to reduce barriers such as location, finances and stigma. Many people suffering from mental issues do not have the possibility to consult a therapist due to lack of mobility or money. Additionally, mental disorders are still stigmatized and therefore it is often not easy for people to start therapy. E-health programs eliminate these issues and offer a new and effective way to treat people who are confronted with mental issues.

The development of new medical technologies is a difficult and expensive process. However, it will pay itself off with the mistakes that can be avoided by doctors. Sophisticated enough, it will be able to save lives while being a more pleasant experience for patients.