XR Talks is a weekly series that features the best presentations and panel discussions from the XR universe. It includes embedded video, as well as narrative analysis of top takeaways. 

The list of industries that are prime targets for XR continues to grow. Healthcare and medicine have always been on that list, with the thought that AR can bring hands-free assistance to surgeons, while VR can aid pain management, among other applications.

But according to a panel at last month’s ARIA conference (video below), healthcare operates differently than other enterprise segments, such as those we examined in a recent report. It’s a double edged sword (or scalpel): There’s less cost-sensitivity but greater regulation and scrutiny.

“It can be difficult and frustrating when you’re trying to innovate in this space, because you don’t have the raw velocity of consumer use cases,” said BrickSimple founder Det Ansinn. “It requires cleverness and understanding of what’s needed from a compliance and regulatory aspect.”

On the other side of the coin, there’s less friction around cost. AR costs such as headsets — though they’re currently cost prohibitive in some fields and consumer use cases — pale in comparison to the astronomical prices of medical equipment and procedures.

“We’re targeting vascular interventions, so to be used intra-operatively there’s not that much of a cost consideration,” said Columbia medical student Gabrielle Loeb. “An AR headset is less than the cost of just one procedure so one-time purchase its not really a major factor.”

But though that cost is low, relative to spending that medical institutions are conditioned for, it doesn’t eliminate the need to prove ROI. This involves metrics that vary by medical field, but they have to be demonstrated. And the gold standard according to Loeb is randomized clinical trials.

“The bigger thing is proving value and not interfering with the procedure. [Surgeons] are very into their routines,” she said. “It’s about proof in the outcomes that matter. For us, we’re measuring contrast, radiation, procedure time and eventually success rate and and complications.”

But another path altogether is XR for nursing, said Ansinn. There’s less regulatory scrutiny but more importantly, nursing happens on a much greater scale than surgical procedures. So XR for nursing functions — including patient care and data entry — can have a greater overall impact.

There are only so many surgeons in the country but a given institution has tens of thousands of nurses,” Ansin said. “The amount of time nurses spend doing data entry on a per patient basis is mind-blowing. If we can take those types of steps there’s very quickly financial justification.”

See the entire session below and stay tuned for more educational videos and talks from the XR universe every Friday. We also recommend attending the online class held this Tuesday 3/06 by the Transformation Group. It focuses on XR in healthcare. Contact us for a discount code.

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Disclosure: ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.