Medical Students Are Using Augmented Reality to Study Patients in 3D

Plenty of companies are working on ways to use virtual reality and its cousin, augmented reality, for entertainment purposes—inventing futuristic video games, three-dimensional movies, and the like.

But these same kinds of technologies also have some fascinating non-entertainment applications, Dr. Toby Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic said during an interview broadcast to attendees at the Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, Calif. on Wednesday.

Cosgrove, the Cleveland Clinic president and CEO and a former cardiac surgeon, talked about how his institution has partnered with Microsoft to create new ways for medical students to learn about patient care, and he provided a short demonstration of it in the video.

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In a nutshell, students can use Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented-reality technology to walk around and interact with a three-dimensional representation of a body.

The total amount of medical knowledge is doubling every 73 days, Cosgrove said. That makes it more difficult than ever for students to keep up, but using new technologies like augmented reality can enhance a student’s ability to understand complex information about diseases and treatment.

“It gives you a much more dynamic understanding of what’s going on, rather than just focusing on one specific thing,” Cosgrove said. That foundation of knowledge in turn can help students once they go into actual operating rooms to see real patients, he said.

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