Extended Reality (XR) in Healthcare: Top Use Cases for 2023 & Career Opportunities

Post date :

Sept 21, 2023

XR is so Much More Than Just Fun and Games 

Extended Reality (XR) technology, which includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), is no longer just for video games; it’s saving lives. 

From hands-free heart surgery to how we treat depression, XR is injecting a dose of virtual magic into medical and mental healthcare. Although XR is relatively new, its healthcare applications are already helping to alleviate the immense pressure facing modern healthcare systems by reducing time-to-care and significantly enhancing patient outcomes. 

Marked by continuous innovation, the healthcare sector is hungry for new and emerging XR developers and designers. XR therapy in healthcare is expected to generate up to $430.52 billion in global revenue by 2028. So, whether looking to upskill or change careers, working in XR is a fast path to shaping the future of healthcare.

Use Cases for XR in Healthcare in 2023 

Remote Care:  XR technologies are increasing the accessibility and effectiveness of remote healthcare, like telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. Unlike video calls, VR creates a fully immersive virtual environment for patients and clinicians to connect. Almost as if they were in the same room. 

XR significantly increases the quality of remote care and reduces barriers, particularly for patients living in remote or underserved communities. 

Medical Imaging: There are many use cases for XR in medical education. AR technology is widely used to create hyper-detailed renditions of patient scans to help healthcare professionals make more accurate diagnoses and carry out more effective treatment plans.   

By projecting anatomical data onto a patient in real life,  AR and VR help surgeons visualize complex surgical procedures.

 In 2020, neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins University wore specialized AR headsets to perform the world’s first XR-enabled spinal fusion surgery. The headset overlaid 3D images directly onto their view of the patient, allowing surgeons to perform the surgery while looking directly at the patient rather than at a remote screen. 

Virtual Reality Training for Healthcare Professionals: XR enables healthcare professionals to complete training from anywhere at any time. Surgeons no longer need to set up expensive equipment, a mannequin, or a live patient to practice new skills or hone a technique. 

XR enables fully immersive simulations for real-time,  “hands-on” practice. All without the risk associated with real-life procedures.

Pain and Anxiety Management: It’s well known that the effective use of pain medications like morphine and oxycodone dramatically improve patient outcomes. But while pain medications are important drivers of well-being and recovery, when taken over long periods, they can induce a flurry of adverse and addictive side effects. 

As an addition or alternative to medication, VR therapy helps to ease pain and anxiety. By wearing a VR headset, patients escape into an immersive therapeutic world that provides a distraction from worries and acute or chronic pain.  

Although the use of VR technology for pain relief is still in its early stages, a 2020 study found that 88% of patients reported a reduction in pain after VR therapy, and over 100 hospitals in the United States use VR as an effective tool to manage pain and anxiety. 

Treatment of Mental Illness: XR technology companies like XRHealth offer pre-loaded apps for VR headsets with guided therapy sessions, gameplay and private sessions with a therapist to treat various mental illnesses like ADHD, depression, and OCD. XR technology can also help to treat phobias or PTSD by exposing patients to their phobias or trauma in a safe and immersive environment. 

Pharmaceutical Marketing and Sales: Virtual and augmented reality technology can be used in pharmaceutical marketing and sales to build immersive visual presentations that demonstrate how a drug functions in the body.  

Bayer Pharmaceuticals regularly use VR and AR to create interactive and engaging presentations to help physicians and patients visualize and understand their treatment applications. 

A Day in the Life: Working in XR & Healthcare 

XR Developer: 

  • Build training simulations for medical professionals, patient education tools, or therapeutic VR experiences.

  • Oversee the development of VR-based mental health or physical therapy programs

  • Develop VR or AR surgical simulators 

XR Designer:

  • Design intuitive and user-friendly interfaces for XR medical applications

  • Conduct user research to design and improve healthcare applications 

  • Create visualizations of medical data, such as 3D models of anatomical structures, organs, or medical imaging scans.  

Become an XR developer or XR designer in just ten weeks.  

Register for Circuit Stream’s XR Development with Unity or Interaction Design and Prototyping for XR 10-week courses. Download the syllabus to learn more.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in partnership with UBC Extended Learning.

© Circuit Stream. This course is delivered by
Circuit Stream in partnership with
UBC Extended Learning.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in partnership with UBC Extended Learning.