The integration of Extended Reality (XR) technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), has been rapidly transforming various industries, including healthcare. Worldwide spending on AR/VR is forecast to accelerate, growing from just over $12 billion in 2020 to $72.8 billion in 2024. XR offers immense potential to revolutionize healthcare by improving patient outcomes, enhancing medical training and education, and optimizing healthcare workflows. The United States and German markets, in particular, have witnessed significant growth and adoption of XR in healthcare.
In this article, we will explore the growing value of XR in healthcare, with a specific focus on the US and German markets. We’ve selected those two as one of them is the biggest, and the other is also impressive for the European region.
XR Market Stats
The US healthcare market has been at the forefront of adopting XR technologies to improve patient care and medical training. According to a comprehensive report by Grand View Research, the US healthcare VR market was valued at a remarkable $579.1 million in 2020, projected to catapult to a staggering $7.05 billion by 2028, boasting a commendable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.2% during the period spanning 2021 to 2028.
Simultaneously, the German healthcare market has astutely recognized the transformative potential encapsulated within XR technologies, actively harnessing their power to improve patient care and revolutionize medical training. Germany is known for its advanced healthcare system, and the integration of XR further strengthens its capabilities. According to Statista, the German market for XR in healthcare is expected to grow at a CAGR of 50% from 2020 to 2025.
Within German hospitals and clinics, the utilization of XR encompasses a wide spectrum, ranging from surgical planning and training to patient rehabilitation and mental health therapy, exemplifying the versatility and efficacy of these immersive technologies.
Diving Deeper Into XR
Let’s establish the terminology of what we’re dealing with here.
Virtual Reality (VR) transports users into a complete digital setting using a headset or a surrounding display. This setting can be created by computers or captured through 360-degree video.
Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information, objects, or media onto the real world using mobile devices or headsets. These elements can be displayed as graphical overlays or realistic 3D objects.
Mixed Reality (MR) represents the advanced form of AR, where physical and digital objects coexist harmoniously. In other words, digital objects appear integrated into and anchored to the real-world environment.
Immersive technology solutions, also known as XR (Extended Reality), are being implemented through diverse channels. Augmented reality experiences are commonly accessed via mobile phones or headsets, providing users with a visual overlay of digital objects within their surrounding environment. Conversely, virtual reality is utilized to fully immerse users within a digitally simulated environment, typically accomplished by employing a headset. Immersive technologies encompass a broad range and can extend to related technologies such as haptics, which enhance immersion by providing a sense of touch in virtual worlds. Haptic technology, often implemented through gloves or articulated arms, allows users to not only visualize and hear their surroundings but also feel them through vibrations and temperature variations. This multi-sensory experience further enriches the immersion and realism of the virtual environment.
The range of HMDs, devices, and software available on the market is set to increase with the expected launch of Apple’s glasses that was announced days ago.
The immersive technology market is experiencing rapid growth as it emerges from the post-Covid-19 pandemic period, and it is approaching a significant milestone of widespread adoption across various industries and public usage.
Projections indicate a notable surge in global spending on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), with expenditures expected to increase from slightly above $12 billion in 2020 to an estimated $72.8 billion by 2024. This substantial growth reflects the growing recognition and investment in AR/VR technologies by enterprises and individuals alike.
Oberlo reports a notable increase in the number of consumers purchasing augmented reality (AR) and VR technology, with projections indicating approximately 5.5 million AR/VR headsets sold globally in 2020, and this number is expected to double to 11 million in 2021. This upward trend highlights the growing interest and demand for AR/VR devices among consumers worldwide.
According to a study conducted by Verizon Media across seven European markets in 2020, it was found that 30% of individuals had engaged in immersive augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) experiences within the past six months. Furthermore, an overwhelming 69% expressed excitement about the prospect of AR/VR experiences.
Statista Research conducted in June 2020 projected that the European AR/VR market is expected to reach a value of 50.55 billion US dollars by 2026.
This forecast indicates a growing recognition among businesses of the expanding and evolving use cases for VR, as they begin to realize the full potential that these technologies offer.
The advancement of XR technology, including software, platforms, headsets, and haptics, is progressing rapidly. This acceleration is facilitated by the transformative capabilities of 5G, AI, IoT, and machine learning, which contribute to increased trust in the usability, reliability, effectiveness, and overall quality of immersive experiences.
Applications of XR in healthcare
The accessibility and cost-effectiveness improvements in XR technology have opened up avenues for rapid progress in utilizing its capabilities to enhance healthcare and promote well-being. While XR technology is often synonymous with gaming and training, immersive technologies have been specifically tailored to address a wide range of healthcare challenges.
A survey of 200 Medical VR/AR Companies discovered 20 clinical sectors including:
- Phobias and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Stress Management and Relaxation
- Surgical Training and Planning
- Physical Rehabilitation
- Pain and Difficult Procedure Management
- Cognitive Rehabilitation
- Optical Rehabilitation
- Neuropsychological Assessments
- Cognitive Training Wellness
- Sports Medicine
- Disability Solutions
- Speech Therapy
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Patient Education
- Preventative Health
- Elderly Care
In 2019, Frontiers, an academic journal, introduced “Frontiers in Virtual Reality” as a specialized publication encompassing a wide spectrum of research conducted in the field of immersive technologies. Notably, one-third of the published articles explicitly focused on medicine and human behavior. The growing number of publications in this domain is paralleled by an increasing interest in conferences and events dedicated to immersive technologies.
Examples include “The International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality & Associated Technologies,” and the “International Society for Virtual Rehabilitation.” The International VR Healthcare Association plays a crucial role in supporting the global industry and community. Through its global membership program and a diverse range of conferences and online events, it fosters collaboration and knowledge exchange among professionals in the field. Let’s have a look at more applications examples in the thriving markets of German and American XR software.
Examples of XR Use in Germany
Germany has been actively incorporating XR technologies into various healthcare domains, showcasing the country’s commitment to innovation and patient care. Here are three notable examples of XR implementation in Germany:
XR in Surgical Training and Planning
The Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, one of Germany’s leading medical institutions, has been utilizing XR in surgical training and planning.
Here is how it works: surgeons can use VR to simulate complex surgical procedures, allowing them to practice and refine their techniques before operating on actual patients.
This technology provides a safe and controlled environment for surgeons to gain hands-on experience, enhance their skills, and reduce the risk of errors during real surgeries. Moreover, XR visualization tools assist in pre-operative planning by enabling surgeons to visualize patient-specific anatomy and simulate the surgical process, resulting in improved precision and outcomes.
XR for Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
XR technologies are also being harnessed for rehabilitation and physical therapy in Germany. The Rehawissenschaften Institute at the Technical University of Dortmund has been exploring the use of XR in neurorehabilitation. By combining virtual reality and motion-tracking devices, patients can engage in immersive and interactive rehabilitation exercises. These exercises help individuals regain motor functions, improve coordination, and enhance overall mobility. XR-based rehabilitation programs offer a motivating and engaging environment, increasing patient compliance and potentially expediting the recovery process.
XR for Mental Health Treatments
Germany addresses mental health conditions with the help of XR. For instance, the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf has integrated XR technology into the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Patients suffering from phobias or anxiety can undergo exposure therapy in a virtual environment, gradually exposing themselves to their fears or triggers. XR allows therapists to create realistic scenarios that mimic real-life situations while providing a safe and controlled space for patients to confront their anxieties. These examples demonstrate Germany’s commitment to leveraging XR technologies to enhance medical training, rehabilitation, and mental health treatments. By embracing immersive technologies, Germany’s healthcare sector is paving the way for more personalized, effective, and patient-centric care.
Examples of Use in the US
XR in Pain Management
The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA, has been utilizing XR technology to help manage acute and chronic pain.
By immersing patients in virtual environments, XR experiences can distract them from their pain and promote relaxation. Additionally, XR can be combined with biofeedback techniques to provide real-time physiological data, enabling patients to visualize and regulate their pain responses. This approach offers a non-pharmacological method for pain management and has shown promising results in reducing pain levels and improving patients’ overall well-being.
XR in Medical Education
Medical institutions in the United States, such as Stanford University School of Medicine, have embraced XR technologies to enhance medical education. Virtual reality simulations allow students to practice medical procedures, interact with virtual patients, and develop clinical skills in a safe and controlled environment.
XR provides an immersive and engaging learning experience, enabling students to gain practical knowledge and improve their decision-making abilities. By integrating XR into medical curricula, educational institutions are preparing future healthcare professionals for real-world scenarios more effectively. Those are just a few of examples of XR applications across these gigantic markets, as all the 20 clinical sectors mentioned before were involved.
The United States and Germany have emerged as frontrunners in adopting XR technologies in healthcare. The great numbers reflect the increasing recognition and investment in XR technologies within the healthcare industry.
XR technology offers a wide range of applications in healthcare, including surgical training and planning, rehabilitation and physical therapy, mental health treatments, pain management, medical education, and more. The immersive and interactive nature of XR experiences provides a safe and controlled environment for medical professionals and patients to enhance their skills, promote recovery, and address various medical conditions.
The accessibility and cost-effectiveness improvements in XR technology have facilitated its rapid progress and adoption across the healthcare sector. Furthermore, advancements in related technologies such as 5G, AI, IoT, and machine learning have contributed to the increased trust and reliability of immersive experiences. As XR technology continues to evolve, we can expect further advancements and applications in healthcare. If you’re looking for an experienced XR software developer in the healthcare domain, contact Elinext, and we’ll pursue your interests in entering the market together.