virtual reality healthcare

Beyond Bulky Goggles: New Virtual Reality Better Suited for Healthcare Applications, Says Report

Old virtual reality systems wasn’t set up well for healthcare, says Kalorama Information in a new report. Bulky headgear, users swaddled in motion capture equipment, extraordinary computing power – in its earlier manifestation, virtual reality (VR) was hardly equipped for the medical arena. Physicians didn’t have the time, hospitals didn’t have the space and budgets didn’t have the money to fully entertain VR’s potential in healthcare. Surgery has the brightest area of application for VR and augmented reality (AR) concepts. Incremental gains in surgical precision and trauma reduction are highly sought, and VR/AR technology has piggybacked on surgical navigation, robot-assisted surgery (RAS), and other image-guided systems such as in radiation therapy. The healthcare market researcher sees more opportunity with new systems.

Other applications of VR/AR technology in healthcare, such as pain management, training, rehabilitation and therapy, have sputtered or failed to take off over the past 10 years. However, the availability of mass market VR systems and new content could spark new sales in these healthcare applications. In the recently published market research report Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) in Healthcare, Kalorama Information examines application markets for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in U.S. healthcare, including in medical education, healthcare training, rehabilitation, therapy, and surgery.

While modest relative to applications in other industries, VR/AR technology in U.S. healthcare has increased from an over $500 million market in 2007 to a nearly $1 billion market in 2017 (roughly 6% compound annual growth). Earlier prognostications of growth for VR/AR in U.S. healthcare proved premature as several products for VR-based rehabilitation and therapy found little reception among medical professionals and payers, or saturated their niche client markets.

Virtual patient-specific anatomy models are widely used in minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and non-invasive radiation therapy (also referred to as radiosurgery). 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 proceed briskly in the coming years.

The future of VR and AR in medical education and healthcare training is found in continued placement of surgical simulators and virtual anatomy systems. Despite detractive market factors such as favorable cost study findings and lack of industry standardization, growth in the U.S. market for virtual surgical simulators will be sustained by the pace of innovation in simulation technology and demand for training on new MIS procedures. Virtual anatomy, surgical rehearsal and training simulators could be viewed on modestly priced VR and holographic AR headsets, potentially attracting more healthcare clients than previous content platforms did.

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. The unique immersive stimulation of VR is theorized to regenerate neural connections, often reconfigured, 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 virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) content by behavioral specialists, who have shown marginal interest to date without favorable coverage decisions.

More information can be found at Kalorama Information’s

About Kalorama Information

Kalorama Information, a division of, supplies the latest in independent medical market research in diagnostics, biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare; as well as a full range of custom research services. Reports can be purchased through Kalorama’s website and are also available on and


Author: VR Reporter

I am a hi-tech enthusiast, VR evangelist, and a Co-founder & Chief Director at Virtual Reality Reporter!

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