Following the theme of augmented reality (AR) recently on iMedicalApps, we recently came across another interesting application of AR that could impact the day-to-day practice of medicine.

Kaiser Permanente is an integrated managed care consortium, based in Oakland, California, United States.


Kaiser Permanente is made up of three distinct groups of entities: the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the autonomous regional Permanente Medical Groups. Kaiser Permanente recently demonstrated their augmented reality examination room, developed at Kaiser’s Center for Total Health and The Garfield Innovation Center.

We first viewed the demonstration at TEDMED earlier this year, where an effective use of augmented reality was in action in the exam room of the future. Attendees could use an iPad and point the device at an item found in the room to see an avatar and a video explanation about it. This worked as an added layer to the stand providing an entertaining narrative to each item present and the way it helps the doctor-patient relationship.

Kaiser Permanente's Exam Room

Its not hard to imagine potential applications of such technology in a number of areas. For example, pediatric settings may be one area where this type of patient education tool would be useful–especially since children are more likely to be familiar with this kind of technology in the first place.

Another potential use would be in home care devices – CPAP/BiPAP machines, home oxygen, infusion pumps, indwelling lines. Many of these require regular care at home and a well designed app using AR would be a great, novel way to do it.

Finally, one could imagine uses for patients undergoing rehabilitation where an app may identify common structures in the home (say stairs or a bathtub) and provide advice to the patient on how to manage them or even use them for home exercises. Keeping with the theme of the day, augmented reality has potential in a number of areas, though, patient education may be one that is particularly ripe for benefit.