From training the doctors of the future to develop new medical techniques, virtual reality has unlimited potential for healthcare industry. By 2020, the global market for VR could be upwards of $3.8 billion. Tapping into this opportunity is a hospital in Tokyo that has started livestreaming surgeries for students under the national lockdown.
At Tokyo Women’s Medical University, which is known for its medical robots, experienced surgeons are now performing operations under a giant 8K virtual reality camera. This would help medical students who cannot attend classes due to lockdown orders put on a virtual reality headset and tune in from the security of their home.
“Especially in the current situation, we believe that VR live streaming is very useful because you can share an immersive experience while avoiding human contact,” Naotaka Fujii, CEO of the VR company Hacosco that set up the system, wrote in a blog by the virtual reality camera manufacturer Insta360.
Livestreaming Surgeries in Virtual Reality
One drawback of the use of VR camera during surgeries is that students won’t get a hands-on perspective as they would if they were in the same surgical theatre with the rest of the surgeons. Another is that surgeons would also need to switch between various reference points for the visuals to be clear enough.
This doesn’t mean the virtual reality camera doesn’t provide a better view while livestreaming surgeries. It looks as if students were peering over the shoulders of a surgeon or watching from the glass window outside the surgical theatre.
“VR technology is definitely progressing in the medical field,” Fujii added. “It’s becoming increasingly common in research and education applications, such as this project, and in postoperative rehabilitation.”
The use of a virtual reality camera for livestreaming surgeries could potentially change how we educate medical students in the future. This application is still in infancy. In the coming years, we could see more and more improvement in VR applications in the medical professional. Simply put, the potential of VR in healthcare is unlimited.