Training Tomorrow’s Doctors: Augmented Reality in Healthcare Education

As technology continues to revolutionise the healthcare industry, AR (augmented reality) has emerged as a powerful tool for medical professionals and students alike. It has proven itself to be an effective tool for training surgeons, enhancing patient care, and improving medical education.

Notably, AR technology has already been used in numerous medical procedures, including spine surgeries and vein treatments. Innovations like these go some of the way to explaining why the worldwide AR market is projected to surpass a worth of £41,000,000,000 by 2027 (Statista).

The benefits of augmented reality in healthcare are numerous: ranging from a hands-on and interactive approach to medical education, to profound improvements in patient care.

At Sliced Bread Animation, we specialise in creating bespoke AR projects for our clients, with a particular focus on medical animation and training. We work closely with you to understand your goals and vision; if you’re interested in crafting an AR medical education project with us, get in touch now.

A screen showing an x-ray style image of a humans bone structure and veins in their skull and neck

What is augmented reality (AR)?

Augmented reality is a technology that overlays digital information onto the real world, thereby creating an interactive experience.

AR has been around for decades – but it wasn’t until the rise of smartphones that the technology became widely accessible. AR is now used in a variety of industries, including healthcare, to display (otherwise potentially-complex) information in a way that is easily accessible, engaging, and educational.

For instance, with AR, surgeons can superimpose images of a patient’s anatomy onto the area being operated on, giving them a better understanding of what’s happening inside the body. AR could also be used to provide patients with educational resources, such as virtual tours of their anatomy or interactive explanations of medical procedures.

And, of course, augmented reality in pharma has the potential to revolutionise the way medical students learn about nuanced equipment, concepts, and procedures.

AR vs VR: What’s the difference?

AR and virtual reality (VR) are often used interchangeably, and both fall under the mixed reality (MR) umbrella, but they are not the same thing.

VR immerses users in a completely virtual environment, with the aid of hardware such as a wearable headset; while AR enhances the real world by overlaying digital information onto it, utilising equipment such as a smartphone or tablet.

Whether AR or VR, mixed reality can improve medical training in many ways.

It is particularly useful for education as it allows for the visualisation of medical procedures and anatomy without the need for equipment or cadavers.

The role of AR in medical education

AR is changing the way medical education is being delivered to students and patients.

It allows for interactive, immersive, and engaging learning experiences, which can help to improve information retention and understanding. For instance:

  • AR can be used to teach anatomy and surgical procedures. Medical students can use AR to explore and manipulate 3D models of the human body, allowing for a deeper understanding of anatomy, and the ability to practice surgical procedures in a virtual environment.
  • AR can also be used to educate patients about their health conditions and treatment options. Patients might use AR to visualise the effects of treatments, such as surgeries or drug therapies, on their bodies. This helps patients to understand their conditions better, make informed decisions about their care, and improve their health outcomes.

Whatever the target audience, expertise with AR and medical animation is vital in helping healthcare educators achieve high levels of engagement and information retention for their learners.

vr in healthcare

3 ways augmented reality is changing healthcare training

Innovative technologies are transforming the healthcare industry; one such technology is augmented reality.

AR is changing the way healthcare professionals are trained, making it easier to understand complex medical procedures and improve patient outcomes. Here are just three ways AR is changing healthcare training:

Training doctors

AR is revolutionising the way doctors are trained, allowing them to visualise medical procedures in a realistic and interactive manner.

For example, some institutions are already using AR to train spine surgeons. With AR, doctors can see virtual models of patients’ spines in real-time, allowing them to plan and perform complex surgeries with greater accuracy and precision.

AR also provides doctors with immediate feedback, allowing them to make real-time adjustments during surgery.

Training nurses

AR is also being used to train nurses in a variety of settings.

For instance, AR can be used to simulate medical emergencies, allowing nurses to practice responding to critical situations. AR can also be used to teach nurses about patient anatomy and physiology.

With AR, nurses can visualise how the body works and how it responds to different treatments, allowing them to provide more effective care.

Educating students

With an information retention rate of 78% or more AR is an excellent tool for educating students – and medical students are no exception.

AR allows students to visualise complex medical procedures, making it easier for them to understand and retain information. AR can also be used to teach students about anatomy and physiology.

With AR, students can see virtual models of the human body and explore its various systems and organs in 3D safely and cost-effectively.

The benefits of augmented reality in healthcare

Augmented reality has numerous benefits in the healthcare industry, particularly in medical training. Here are just a few reasons why AR education is an invaluable tool for healthcare organisations:

  • Realistic simulations: AR technology can create realistic simulations of medical procedures, allowing students to practice in a safe and controlled environment. This can help to improve their confidence, reduce errors, and enhance patient safety.
  • Enhanced visualisation: AR allows students to visualise and interact with three-dimensional medical models, giving them a deeper understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body.
  • Accessible training: AR can make healthcare training more accessible, particularly for those in remote or underserved areas. With AR, students can access high-quality training from anywhere in the world.
  • Improved retention: By engaging both the visual and auditory senses, AR can improve information retention and help students to better retain what they have learned.
  • Cost-effective: Using AR for healthcare training can be cost-effective in the long run, as it reduces the need for expensive equipment, supplies, and staff time.

Looking to the future

Relatively speaking, the use of AR technology in healthcare is still in its infancy – but the benefits are already clear.

By providing immersive and interactive experiences, AR enables healthcare professionals to train more effectively, diagnose and treat patients more accurately, and improve patient outcomes.

With the continued growth and innovation in AR technology, the possibilities for its use in healthcare are practically endless. Doubtless, AR will continue to play an increasingly important role in medical training and education, as well as in patient care and treatment.

At Sliced Bread Animation, we specialise in creating bespoke AR and VR projects for the healthcare industry. If you’re looking to develop your own AR healthcare training course or project, simply get in touch with our team of experts – we’ll work with you to craft a solution that meets your needs and delivers outstanding results.


Have a query about augmented reality in healthcare education? Explore some of our most frequently asked questions below. Alternatively, reach out to us today – we’ll be happy to discuss the potential of this technology with you.

What is augmented reality used for in healthcare?

Augmented reality is used in healthcare to enhance medical training, improve patient outcomes, and reduce the risk of errors during medical procedures. AR technology can provide visual overlays, 3D models, and holographic images that enable medical professionals to see inside the human body and practice complex procedures before performing them on a patient.

What are 3 examples of augmented reality?

Three examples of augmented reality in healthcare include: vein visualisation technology that enables medical professionals to see beneath the skin, AR-assisted spine surgery that helps surgeons accurately place screws during procedures, and AR-enhanced medical training that allows students to practice procedures on realistic 3D models.

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