Medical augmented reality (AR) activity is tentatively used today in first responder training and education. But ABI Research predicts that the market, particularly smart glasses or head-mounted devices, will hit an inflection point between 2018 and 2019.
The report, “AR in Telemedicine, Training and First Responder Medical Applications” predicts that after first responders adopt the technology, the market will see accelerated growth both in telemedicine and surgery. Cleveland Clinic just released a list of its most-anticipated medical technologies, naming AR in surgery as one of the top 10 innovations. AR could enable a variety of services, including remote surgery viewings, preparations and enhancing the operating room experience.
There are some barriers to adoption. High prices of smart glasses and limited installed bases keep widespread application at the periphery.
“Before medical AR reaches its inflection point, several key milestones need to be met,” says Michael Inouye, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Early first responder trials need to move forward to deployments. Expansion into more medical education applications will be critical, because they will ensure that AR becomes a tool that future professionals learn and can use after graduation, in the medical field and beyond. Interest for AR in surgery shows great promise but will require significant investment as well as safety trials. We expect to see this all start to take shape as early as 2017.”
“Medicine, like any industry, will leverage new technologies to improve efficiencies and performance; and the move from a per-service structure for reimbursements to performance or quality of care will encourage this outreach for new technology,” concludes Inouye. “While the uptake of augmented reality might lag behind other industries, in part due to an often more rigorous vetting process, growth is certainly coming.”