image credit: Unsplash

AR/MR/VR and Their Healthcare Benefits

May 17, 2021


One of the five tech trends that supports healthcare in 2021 includes augmented and virtual reality.

Today, virtual healthcare practices and methods have changed our perception of the medical industry. With technology at the fingertips of medical facilities, innovations are breaking limits and helping both medical professionals and patients navigate a new world of possibilities. 

The benefits of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality include multi-sensory and immersive experiences for patients as well as low-risk simulated environments for training surgeons. Moreover, better results have been achieved with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in pain management and mental health—a number of benefits coming from the great therapeutic potential of VR in rehabilitating acute pain and anxiety.

These simulated experiences are drastically changing the healthcare industry as we know it, but what are their differences and similarities?

Read this article to learn more about these groundbreaking features.

The difference between AR, MR, and VR

Augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality have insightful applications in the area of medicine. But when it comes to using these features, MR has the biggest potential. It enables the interaction with both digital and physical objects, allowing healthcare professionals and organizations to experience and achieve more than ever before. 

Before you dive into these technologies, you need to understand the differences and how they can influence your healthcare decision-making. 

Virtual Reality (VR)

One of the most important benefits of VR in healthcare is that it can significantly reduce expenses. For example, virtual reality training revolutionized medicine by helping organizations cut costs while training new employees.

The perks of virtual reality also include experiencing a new world. While immersed, you can move within this created world and interact with it. The VR applications have a wide range of uses—mostly for gaming and educational purposes. However, they have also proven to be helpful in medicine, as they provide opportunities to practice in a safe environment. They are especially beneficial for patients with PTSD, providing counseling with a new perspective and therapists with a helping hand. 

When it comes to surgery, however, VR is currently not used in hospitals as a standard practice and may never be an ideal solution. For the operating room, mixed or augmented reality is more suitable during surgeries.

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR makes it possible to overlay the real world and digital objects. This is especially helpful in gaming and shopping applications through a mobile device’s camera. These spatial computing apps are highly common today and allow users to see both real and virtual environments.

AR in healthcare is seen today in surgery and can be used with microscopes and digital structures to help surgeons enhance their practices. AR glasses are another example of a useful tool when it comes to medical practice. Overall, AR can improve the chances for accurate results in an examination, and also empower nurses to perform more effectively by overlaying different images that would assist them in any operations.

Mixed Reality (MR)

The main difference between AR and MR is the interaction between the real and digital worlds: 

  • Digital objects don’t interact with the real world in AR—they are simply overlaid 
  • Users can interact with virtual objects as if they were physical objects in MR

MR in healthcare could benefit students in medical schools, as they learn about anatomy, and help patients better understand their tests or scans.

MR in surgery is also an emerging trend, as developers are working on applications and devices that enable surgeons to view and interact with patient data, improving decision-making.


Learning how to use VR, AR, and MR for your benefit will help you start your journey into the future of medicine while also reducing costs in terms of training.