Like all other public industries, healthcare needs to grow. With new technology coming out, we’re finding new and better ways to treat illnesses. But there are also great improvements in medical research. Experts are tapping into different technologies to continue improving, and immersive technology is the newest one.
Of course, ever since computers became more commercial, doctors and surgeons have been using software to get better. With modern immersive technology, doctors can have a more hands-on approach when it comes to research and learning.
Where and How Can We Use Immersive Technology in Healthcare?
There are three major ways we can use AR/VR products in modern healthcare. The first of those is using immersive technology as a tool in everyday tasks. For example, Google Glass has been used by doctors ever since it first came out in 2013. Doctors have successfully utilized it to maintain patient records. They could also project CT scans and MRI results onto the field of vision. Moreover, they projected images of a patient’s retina and showed medical breastfeeding instructions to young mothers. They even consulted other doctors during surgery.
And speaking of doctor consultation, let’s talk about the second major application of medical immersive technology. Namely, doctors can consult each other through live video using AR/VR tech. This process makes collaboration easier. However, doctors can also use it to consult patients in far-away locations.
The third application deals with phobias and therapies. Doctors can use immersive technology to help patients with PTSD or anxiety disorder. Patients can interact with the 3D environment as a form of exposure therapy. On top of that, doctors can also help amputees cope with their afflictions using VR therapy.
Potential User Base
All medical experts can benefit from immersive technology. Of course, it comes with its own set of risks. For example, some doctors don’t like that Google Glass didn’t use any data encryption. That means anyone can hack the device and get to the data it collected.
Let’s talk about the size of the user base. Right now, there are roughly eight million doctors and EMTs around the world. Of those, 1.5 million are in the United States. About 740.000 are specialty physicians, 500.000 are primary care doctors, and 240.000 are EMTs. All of these professionals can use immersive technology in different ways. In other words, it would be a large and growing market that benefits both the doctors and the patients. It will benefit AR/VR manufacturers as well, of course.
The basic estimate for medical AR/VR software revenue is at around $5.1 billion by 2025.
When it comes to hardware, doctors will probably not buy immersive technology devices as much as other consumers might. However, our focus shouldn’t be the devices alone. In fact, we should focus on the actual software these headsets use. As a comparison, we can use CAD software that architects and engineers buy. This software can cost anywhere between $1.000 and $5.000. The high price is there because of how complex that software is. We can, therefore, assume that medical software for these tech devices will cost at least $1.500 per unit. With that in mind, we estimate that 800.000 EMTs will be using this tech in 2020. That number will be as high as 3.4 million in 2025.