With the growing interconnectivity of electronic devices, the enhanced scanning ability of diagnostic devices, and the increasing sophistication of AI, and sensory environments it is becoming possible to abstract actual healthcare provision away from the physical world for the first time.
A sizeable, and slowly increasing section of healthcare, can be performed without physical interaction with a health care professional at all.
Virtual Health Roadblocks
The virtualisation of much of what healthcare offers, is a good thing, at least for the end-user. For the established medical practice however, especially in countries in which healthcare is a profitable business, this same virtualisation is less than good Ė for the bottom line. Thus there are going to be several roadblocks, some technological, some put in place by established medical institutions, to fight this facility.
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Sometimes it is possible to diagnose a patient, or track a disease's progress, not through physical examination, but via VR. Separate to actual treatment, virtual diagnosis results in the most likely pathways to check, cutting down the search time in the majority of cases.
Despite the name, Plato's Cave, is not a CAVE VR. It is instead, a window on world (monitor based) VR experience, designed as a new radiology visualisation interface.
The Dextroscope: Medical Images
The Dextroscope is a holographic display system designed specifically to help surgeons visualize and practice on the area to be operated on, prior to actual surgery.
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Virtual treatment covers the whole gamut of using virtual reality system to treat a patientís medical condition effectively. For obvious reasons, this area overlaps a great deal with therapeutic worlds. However, virtual treatment covers far more than just therapy. It is possible for example to create a virtual replica of the patient, for the surgeon to experiment on prior to surgery, or to trial drugs on, whilst looking for potential problems.
Videogame Derived Medicine
BodyViz is a window-on-world VR that combines the X-box and DICOM medical data for a low end VR solution to 3D medical results.
Virtual Colonography vs. Standard Colonoscopy
Virtual colonography is a relatively new field, which is completely non-invasive. A computed Topography (CT) scan is taken, where the body is invasively scanned into slices, which are then reconstituted into a 3D model of a person's colon, for a painless colonoscopy.
Virtual Reality Treats Lazy Eye
Amblyopia, better known as lazy eye, is a medical condition whereby one eye works better than the other. The standard cure is 400 hours with an eyepatch. VR can achieve the same results - in an hour.
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Biochips, or biochip laboratories as they are more usually known, are a major research area of modern medicine. Thin one-use disposable wafers, they are crisscrossed with both fluid channels and micro-circuitry. Drop a single drop of blood on one, and plug it into a small computer for power and to process the results. Blood intermixes with circuitry and becomes part of the circuit. In a matter of hours, thousands of tiny blood tests are complete, and the results are returned.
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Medical Data Standards
In order for virtual healthcare to reach its full potential, there must be a consensus from the relevant authorities about which medical data standards are being used, along with how you interface with them.
X-ray technology in the 21st century
A mainstream article from the BBC looking at the spread of PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications Standard) in UK health centres in mid 2007, and the profound positive impact it has had on those health authorities it has been adopted in.
The problem with implementing telehealth is that it cannot be deployed alone. In order to use remote delivered health care effectively, the entire health care system needs augmenting with other aspects of the same technologies, and methodologies changed slightly to be more time efficient and much more digital.
Augmenting Medical Records: OpenMRS
OpenMRS, or The Open Medical Record System, is a free, open-source attempt at creating a distributed electronic patient records system. It is web based, written in Java, and is under active development.
Standards > DICOM
DICOM, which stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine is the main set of standards currently in use by medical communities for medical data handling.
Standards > MedX3D
The Medical Working Group of the X3D consortium is developing an open interoperable standard for human anatomy representation. This standard works with multiple types of scans (CAT, MRI, PET, and others), and allows equipment manufacturers to be able to export data collected from the scanning machines into a shared data format.
Standards > PACS
Picture Archiving and Communications System, or PACS is a digital image standard, used increasingly in medicine. A basic level standard, it is often in place before more advanced standards like DICOM.
Using Thin Clients for Medical Data
A thin client is any computer system basically, that uses an application for whom all processing occurs on a central server, with just the results shipped back to the client for display. This paradigm is ideal for medical data, so why is it only now being considered?
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SimStim offers the possibility for the userís senses to be elsewhere. Not necessarily in VR, but very much otherwise occupied. Used in medicine, this opens up a whole realm of new possibilities, as the need for painkillers and anaesthetic starts to lessen, even a little bit.
SimStim is a concept first created in the VR novel Neuromancer, penned in 1984 by William Gibson. It is the third form of alternate realirty. VR is the replacing of all outside stimulae with artificial. AR is the augmenting of natural stimulae with artificial. SimStim is replacing your natural sensory stimulae, with that of another person.
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Virtual Health Research
Games for Health 2008: Round Up
This two part overview of the Games for Health Conference 2008, split due to length necessity, features five examples that were actually shown at the conference, together with expert testimony on how gaming and VR are changing the medical space, beyond recognition.
Protein Binding as a Virtual World
A new virtual environment, unveiled by researchers at the Southern Methodist University, is an interactive-real-time simulation of the human cell's 'sump pump', intended to allow researchers to interact with it in real-time, and determine how to bypass it for cancer cells.
Replicating Medical Epidemics in Virtual Worlds
Are MMO worlds really a place where epidemics can be implemented? Infections leaping from player to player, some succumbing, some becoming carriers? It seems amazing, and farfetched - no player would stand for that, surely. Yet, this has already happened in at least one persistent virtual world.
University of Calgary Unveils the CAVEman Virtual Human
Scientists at the University of Calgary have created the world?s first complete object-oriented computer model of a human body. Far superior to a series of slides, or a textbook, the model is codenamed CAVEman. CAVEman is four-dimensional, as opposed to three, because he can move, as opposed to being static. He can interact with those studying him.
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Training in Virtual Reality