In a world marked by an ageing global population and breakthrough investments in medical advancements, the imperative for digital transformation in healthcare has reached new levels. The urgency is heightened by the need to expedite scientific breakthroughs while expanding accessibility, because the stakes could not be higher – it’s a matter of life and death.

Lenovo’s ThinkReality solutions are boldly rising to meet this challenge, helping drive transformation across the entire healthcare landscape – from student education to frontline patient care. These groundbreaking strides are pushing the boundaries of the global AR and VR healthcare market, which is projected to witness a remarkable 27.2% growth between 2021 and 2028.

As ThinkReality XR Solutions Advisor Jeff Fulton explained, it’s the immersive quality of VR which is transforming learning and research potential in medicine. “Through our partnerships with ISVs (Content Developers) we’re able to offer an end-to-end solution which will transform learning and research potential in medicine. 

Ryan Warren, Lenovo Worldwide Healthcare & Life Science Segment Lead, explained that “one example is a clinical application around virtual dissections – with all 2,000 parts of the body labelled and accessible, avoiding the costs and limitation of lab time.”

Enhanced Outcomes and Lower Costs

This all contributes to a significant metric in better outcomes: the avoidance of medical errors. The more practice, and the more feedback, available for crucial high-risk procedures, the better the results. And the return on investment is easy to visualise, when it costs upwards of 1 million dollars to maintain an anatomy lab within a teaching hospital. 

But it’s not just students who benefit, because continuing medical education is a life-long process. 

Today’s senior physicians may have learned from textbooks and cadavers at medical school, but now their most challenging or novel procedures can be modelled and rehearsed in VR ahead of time, greatly enhancing patient outcomes. As Worldwide Healthcare Marketing Manager Christine Dohrmann described, “one of our partners built a specific case for a brain surgery patient, a model based on their MRI. So the physician could plan and rehearse that exact procedure, long before the patient enters the operating room.” 

During procedures, AR further enhances the feedback and reduces response time, with biometric data layered into physicians and nurses field of view in real time, avoiding the need for distracting updates or the need to look at external monitors. Lenovo partners with industry leading software partners to present a full industry enterprise solution, addressing every area where the medical and surgical experiences can be made safer, better, and more cost effective.

Extending possibilities for all stakeholders

It’s not just the clinicians who get the virtual experience, with breakthroughs on the patient side creating major therapeutic benefits. Creating effective exposure therapy for PTSD, gamifying challenging physical therapy, or simply distracting patients from painful interventions, are all powerful applications of VR immersion.

When it comes to understanding the secrets of the human body and everything it needs for optimal health, the power of extended reality can be deployed by every participant in the process. Seeing data and solutions in new ways, creates better outcomes at every stage of the medical journey.

“We have another software partner that’s created a digital twin of the radiology reading room,” Warren described. “So instead of sitting in a dark room all day or hurrying to an emergency room, they can put the headset on and view – and also collaborate with other experts anywhere in the world.  They’re presently becoming FDA certified in the US as well as Canada, so they can actually clinically diagnose patients through a VR headset.”

To unleash this digital evolution on a large scale, robust infrastructure is as crucial as technological innovations. Lenovo and its partners are diligently laying the groundwork, developing proofs of concept for imminent industry-wide implementation

“There still needs to be broader 5G rollout,” Warren reflected, “and completely robust security is a prerequisite. But, both software licences and headset costs are coming down. Currently, healthcare is so labour-intensive, so any technology which helps providers scale or be more efficient, to train faster, is really valuable.

“This kind of technology is the greatest force multiplier, if it’s done right.”