Results from a 2023 Censuswide research survey of US-based surgeons.
Augmented reality (AR) smart glasses have emerged as a revolutionary tool, brimming with endless benefits and boundless opportunities within the realm of surgical settings. Vuzix has established longstanding partnerships with a multitude of medical innovators, such as Pixee Medical, Medacta, Ohana One,Rods & Cones, Proximie and many others. All of which recognize Vuzix hardware as a transformative technology that elevates surgical practices, enriching precision, efficiency, and ultimately, patient outcomes.
Driven by a desire to delve deeper into the realm of surgical applications across the United States, Vuzix embarked on a profound exploration, culminating in the recent release of a comprehensive report. This report delves into the growing interest among American surgeons in adopting Augmented Reality (AR) smart glasses within their practices. Drawing insights from a survey encompassing over 500 surgeons throughout the United States, the findings illuminate a strong appetite among these skilled professionals to incorporate AR smart glasses into their daily routines, underscoring their optimistic outlook on the future of AR in medicine.
In fact, the report unveils that a remarkable 25% of surgeons have already embraced these advanced devices, seamlessly integrating them into their surgical workflows. Additionally, an impressive 31% are actively considering the utilization of AR smart glasses, recognizing their potential value. Furthermore, a noteworthy 19% of surgeons have previously experimented with AR technology, attesting to its efficacy and the benefits it bestows upon their practice.
The report also sheds light on regional variations in the adoption of AR smart glasses. Analyzing the percentages provides insights into the adoption and perceived benefits of AR technology among surgeons across the Midwest, Northeast, South, and West regions.
- South: The South region leads in the adoption of AR smart glasses among surgeons, with 27% currently utilizing them in their practice and 23% reporting past benefits from their usage.
- Midwest: In the Midwest, 26% of surgeons are currently using AR smart glasses in their practice, and 14% have found them helpful in the past.
- Northeast: Within the Northeast region, 26% of surgeons currently use AR smart glasses in their practice, while 19% have reported past benefits from their usage.
- West: The West region demonstrates a slightly lower adoption rate, with 21% of surgeons currently using AR smart glasses in their practice and 18% reporting past benefits from their usage.
Just over 3 in 10 (31%) surgeons surveyed said they are considering using AR smart glasses in their practice and a quarter (25%) said they are currently using AR smart glasses in their practice.
AR Shaping the Future of Surgical Education
In today’s digital era, a new generation of medical students, who were born into a world immersed in technology, naturally anticipate its integration into every facet of their educational journey. The survey supports this obvious inclination, revealing that over two thirds (67%) of surgeons have received training with AR smart glasses.Furthermore, a quarter of these surgeons not only recognize AR as the future of surgical education (25%) but also acknowledge its potential benefits over traditional teaching methods (25%)
Examining the data further reveals intriguing trends among different age groups and specialties. Among surgeons surveyed in the age range of 25-34, nearly 2 in 5 (37%) have been trained with AR smart glasses and firmly believe in its potential as the future of surgical education. They are the future of surgical practice and they recognize that AR's immersive experiential environment can boost students' engagement and interest during practical training, ultimately enhancing efficiency in surgical education.
In comparison, just over a fifth (21%) of those aged 45-54 share the same sentiment. This suggests, not surprisingly, that younger surgeons, who have grown up in a more technologically advanced environment, are more likely to embrace AR as an integral part of their professional development.
Within the medical education process, patient safety remains paramount, and AR wearable devices assume a crucial role in this technologically enhanced learning experience. By facilitating access to comprehensive and immersive information during medical training, these devices empower learners while fostering collaboration and upskilling through remote expert mentorship during telesurgery sessions.
Today, healthcare facilities are now integrating AR devices into their training programs, providing aspiring surgeons with extended opportunities to acquire essential skills. Leveraging the see-what-I-see technology, budding surgeons can now observe the operating room through the experienced surgeon’s perspective, with real-time streaming of surgical procedures, thereby providing the ideal learning viewpoint. Introducing AR into the operating room offers efficient learning opportunities that maintain patient safety while also gaining the benefits that come from hands-on experimental learning.
Geographically, the data reveals regional differences in the adoption of AR smart glasses for surgical education. 3 in 10 (30%) surgeons surveyed in the West have received training with AR smart glasses and view it as the future of surgical education. In comparison, over a fifth (23%) of surgeons in the South hold the same view.
Almost half of surgeons surveyed agree¹ that AR smart glasses can reduce complications and deaths in operating rooms due to human error (49%) and that AR smart glasses improve a surgeon’s accuracy, speed and efficiency through remote assist and assistive software (48%)
The Benefits of Smart Glasses in Surgery
It’s clear that AR wearable devices offer many benefits in surgical settings. Almost half of the surgeons surveyed agree that AR smart glasses could have a significant impact within their practice by reducing complications and deaths in operating rooms due to human error. AR smart glasses can improve a surgeon’s accuracy, speed, and efficiency through remote assist and assistive software, ultimately lowering patient risk. Three major areas where surgeons reported are seeing benefits of smart glasses today relate to increased revenue and profitability, reduced risk, and improved patient outcomes.
Increased revenue and profitability
- Reduce operating room time, saving as much as $100/minute
- Allow for remote consults, increasing billing and speed of diagnosis
3 in 10 (30%) of surgeons surveyed said they currently do, or may, benefit from reduced surgical equipment and staff costs. Just over a quarter (26%) of surgeons said they currently, or may, benefit form accelerated surgical operation prep times from AR smart glasses.
- Improved access to remote specialists
- Surgical checklists and other safety improvements
- In-line visualization for fewer errors
Over 2 in 5 (44%) of surgeons surveyed believe AR smart glasses currently, or may, benefit them through accessing in-depth information in their field of view (i.e. 3D anatomical images and models, real-time medical references and patient information). This is closely followed by just over 2 in 5 (41%) who said they currently, or may, benefit from AR smart glasses providing lower-risk surgical environments by reducing the need for unnecessary entry and exit into the operation room.
Improved patient outcomes
- Ability for remote triage
- House calls to meet rising elder care demands
- Access to specialists to address rural and remote healthcare gaps
Just over a third (34%) of surgeons surveyed believe there are benefits with training prospective surgeons and caregivers with a see-what-I-see view. Almost 3 in 10 (28%) said they currently do, or would, benefit from collaborating with remote clinical teams and having worldwide access to surgical care.
Comfort of the smart glasses (33%), challenges with interface (29%) and learning curve (initial set up configuration (29%) are the top challenges cited about the adoption of AR smart glasses for surgeons surveyed
Addressing Surgeon Concerns: Let the Tech Talk for Itself
Distractions in the operating room can lead to grave mistakes and injuries, underscoring the importance of minimizing any disruptions for surgeons during procedures. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worn by surgeons during lengthy surgical sessions, often lasting up to 12 hours a day, is already extensive. Consequently, the prospect of introducing additional equipment can be daunting. Hence, when new technology is introduced into the operating room, wearability becomes a primary concern, as stated by a significant portion (33%) of surveyed surgeons.
For a headworn display like smart glasses, the technology must be lightweight and comfortable enough to be worn for extended periods without causing any cognitive burden. 3 in 10 surgeons surveyed state that they have concerns related to the challenges with interface (29%), the learning curve for initial setup configuration (29%), and battery life lasting through long surgeries (28%). A quarter (25%) cited sensory overload concerns.
Smart glasses offer surgeons the ability to access necessary information in surgery, using augmented reality, in real-time, without having to divert their eyes from the procedure to glance at a computer screen. Dr. Cox, Orthopedic Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon and Section Chief at the Shoulder Center of Arkansas, explained the significance of this feature, stating “I don’t have to do anything differently than I would normally do in a surgery to get the information that I want. I’m not looking to a peripheral site, or a screen, or a monitor, or anything like that, which is critically important.”
Vuzix smart glasses feature advanced waveguide optics for hands-free mobile computing and connectivity. The see-through waveguide optics merge digital instruction into real-world tasks, removing distractions and vision occlusion and reducing error rates. Their lightweight and durability factors are only a few of the reasons why they are one of the most wearable, powerful, and ergonomically versatile head-worn devices on the market today. The glasses allow the surgeon to simply do their job, more accurately, without negatively impacting the level of comfort or the ability to keep focus on the patient while in the OR.
Among the various specialties surveyed, certain disciplines stand out for their significant adoption and consideration of AR smart glasses in surgical practices.
For those already utilizing AR smart glasses, Cardiovascular Surgery leads the way with an impressive 47% of surgeons incorporating this technology into their procedures. This is followed by Podiatric Surgery (34%), General Surgery (34%), Neurosurgery (34%), Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (32%), and Cardiothoracic Surgery (30%). These findings demonstrate the diverse range of specialties that recognize the potential benefits of AR smart glasses in their daily practice.
When it comes to considering the use of AR smart glasses, Plastic Surgeons are at the forefront with 42% expressing interest, closely followed by Transplant Surgery (41%), Orthopedic Surgery (39%), Hand Surgery (37%), and Neurosurgery (34%). These specialties understand the value that AR technology can bring to their field and are open to exploring its potential applications.
- Among surgeons who have used AR smart glasses in the past and found them helpful, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery tops the list with 29% reporting positive experiences. This is followed by Ophthalmic Surgery (27%), Bariatric Surgery (27%), Obstetric and Gynecologic Surgery (25%), and Surgical Oncology (23%). These specialties recognize the tangible benefits that AR smart glasses can provide, supporting their efficacy in enhancing surgical procedures and outcomes.
AR Smart Glasses Have the Power to Revolutionize Surgery
The ability to have a clear view of the surgical task at hand and receive immediate feedback is invaluable to surgeons. Throughout the medical field, access to real-time information has always been a top priority. Now, with the advent of augmented reality (AR) technology and hands-free smart glasses displays, this becomes a reality. AR is increasingly being utilized in surgery, virtual operating theaters, training, and education, among other applications. Consequently, surgeons are eagerly embracing this transformative technology in their own practices.
“By providing surgeons with real-time information, remote assistance, and advanced visualization capabilities, AR smart glasses have the power to revolutionize the way surgeries are performed. At Vuzix, we are committed to developing cutting-edge AR solutions that empower surgeons and enhance the future of healthcare,” said Paul Travers, President and CEO of Vuzix.
*This report was conducted by a third-party research firm, Censuswide.The report includes a total sample size of 506 surgical professionals. Fieldwork was undertaken between May 3rd - May 5th, 2023, and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 25+).