- The healthcare virtual reality market is forecast by IT Intelligence Markets to increase at a CAGR of 53 percent through 2023.
Key market players identified in the report include GE Healthcare, Virtual Realties, Virtalis, CAE Healthcare, Stryker Corporation, Brainlab, Philips, Siemens, Intuitive Surgical, Vital Images, and Medtronic.
Virtual reality (VR) can be employed in healthcare in a number of ways, such as enabling education of healthcare practitioners, medical students, and patients about surgical and therapeutic procedures; making it easy for surgeons to visualize operating areas; and making image-guided surgeries more efficient.
VRHealth CEO Eran Orr predicted that VR will be a game changer for the healthcare market in three years, according to a recent Forbes article. The Israeli start-up recently signed an agreement with VR firm Oculus to bring Oculus Go and Rift products to the healthcare market.
“This is not science fiction, we already see the growth and acceptance of VR in the healthcare market,” Orr told Forbes. “Since our hard launch in May 2018, we have seen 10% weekly compound growth rate in VR treatment.”
“The need in healthcare is obvious. We see VR as a platform, and it just doesn't have one use case. It can be used for any case a clinician wants as the patient needs to dictate,” Orr said. “And because VR is a platform, you get a full view of the patient data at one time, and the patient can take that data and continue their rehab or treatment at home. VR will let us provide a lot of solutions for so many of the problems we see in the healthcare system today,” he added.
The most popular current application of VR and augmented reality (AR) technology is surgery, according to a Kalorama Information market report.
Healthcare priorities include gains in surgical accuracy and trauma reduction. VR/AR technology has benefitted from surgical navigation, robot-assisted surgery, and other image-guided systems such as radiation therapy.
Other applications of VR/AR technology in healthcare, such as pain management, rehabilitation and therapy, have not increased as much. At the same time, the availability of mass market VR systems and new content could spark new sales in these healthcare applications, noted Kalorama.
While modest relative to applications in other industries, the healthcare VR/AR technology market has doubled over the last 10 years. Earlier predictions of growth for healthcare VR/AR in the US market were premature; several products for VR-based rehabilitation and therapy were either not adopted by medical professionals and payers or saturated their niche client markets.
Virtual patient-specific anatomy models are widely used in minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and noninvasive radiation therapy. The potential for VR and AR is also evident in robotic surgery, particularly in image-guided orthopedic surgery. Market growth for VR/AR technology in surgery is expected to be strong in the near term, according to Kalorama.
VR/AR for medical education and healthcare training is evidenced in continued placement of surgical simulators and virtual anatomy systems. Despite negative market factors such as unfavorable cost study findings and lack of industry standardization, growth in the US market for virtual surgical simulators is expected to be sustained by the pace of innovation in simulation technology and demand for training on MIS procedures. Virtual anatomy, surgical rehearsal, and training simulators could be viewed on modestly priced VR and holographic AR headsets, likely attracting more healthcare clients than previous content platforms, noted Kalorama.
The market for VR/AR technology in rehabilitation and therapy is expected to grow with the introduction of systems for stroke and paralysis rehabilitation, complementing established platforms for physical rehabilitation and gait analysis, observed Kalorama.
The immersive stimulation of VR could regenerate neural connections severed by stroke or injury. The new connections formed through neuroplasticity enable patients to recover skills, physical movements, or partial control of affected extremities. The falling price point of VR headsets may encourage uptake of VR therapy content by behavioral specialists, who have shown marginal interest to date without favorable coverage decisions, according to Kalorama.