Sitting before his cardiologist, a patient is told he needs “A Procedure” … and realizes the last time he truly had to understand anatomy was high school biology class. And the physician, pulling out a notepad and pencil and trying to sketch an aorta, wishes she had taken a few more art classes. This is the problem the (free) Gore Augmented Reality App addresses. It is designed to make it easier for doctors to talk to patients about procedures with the digital, visual language consumers have come to expect in their daily lives — but often lack in health care.
Can you describe the app and who it is for?
The Gore Augmented Reality (AR) Experience App provides interactive three-dimensional (3D) holograms of our endovascular devices. It illustrates the devices’ functionality and shows where they would be implanted within the body. What we’re doing, essentially, is providing a high-resolution, anatomically correct visual aid that can be understood by both clinical and non-clinical audiences.
The idea behind the app was to help facilitate conversations between physicians and patients, as well as between patients and their families or significant others. Very few AR apps are available in the medical device space. We saw an opportunity to utilize digital technology to help patients understand and visualize the proposed interventional procedure that their physician was recommending. Prior to the release of this app, physicians did not have an easy-to-use digital tool to help them educate their patients. They relied on plastic models, static illustrations or sketches that they created. We believe this tool will help physicians’ patient educational efforts and improve patient understanding of the proposed procedure.
Both physicians and patients can download the app for free to their smartphones or tablets from either the Apple Store, or the Google Play Store.
How do you envision physicians utilizing this app? What about patients?
We see the app being useful in two key interactions:
1. Physician-to-patient: This app was intended to help physicians explain procedures to their patients in a one-on-one way that capitalizes on AR’s relationship-driven interaction. Physicians can pull up the app and talk through a procedure while sitting side-by-side with a patient, or they can video chat with patients and have the same visual support.
2. Patient-to-family: A dad scheduled for repair of an aortic aneurysm can open this app on the couch at home and explain both his stent and the procedure itself to his spouse and teenagers. Families are often a huge part of patient support and recovery, and we believe helping everyone understand endovascular procedures is of value.
What are some of the challenges physicians face when recommending an endovascular solution to their patients?
Physicians’ primary communication goal is to ensure their patients comprehend their proposed treatment plan and are comfortable with the recommendation. To aid in this discussion, physicians often utilize a combination of static illustrations, brochures, plastic anatomical models, and hand-drawn sketches. The Gore AR Experience App simplifies this process by utilizing high-resolution device imagery and 3D anatomical modeling within an augmented reality environment. The result is an engaging AR environment that helps physicians communicate their proposed treatment plan to their patients.
How was Gore involved in the app creation?
Our team believed there was an opportunity to utilize technology to support physician-to-patient communications. Working with an external strategic partner, we explored various options and concepts to bring our idea to life. Augmented reality stood out due to its innovative and engaging application and simplicity in use.
Is the app specific to Gore devices?
The app features several of our endovascular devices that are commercially available in Europe and the U.S.:
a. GORE® EXCLUDER® Conformable AAA Endoprosthesis with ACTIVE CONTROL System (CE Mark approved)
b. GORE® EXCLUDER® Iliac Branch Endoprosthesis (CE Mark approved and FDA approved)
c. GORE® TAG® Conformable Thoracic Stent Graft with ACTIVE CONTROL System (CE Mark approved and FDA approved)
d. GORE® VIABAHN® Endoprosthesis with Heparin Bioactive Surface (FDA approved)
e. GORE® VIABAHN® Endoprosthesis with PROPATEN Bioactive Surface (CE Mark approved)
f. GORE® VIABAHN® VBX Balloon Expandable Endoprosthesis (CE Mark approved and FDA approved)
Additional Gore devices will be added in the future.
Are there any HIPAA issues?
Because users are not required to sign in or input personal information in order to use the app, there are no issues with use related to HIPAA.
What do you envision happening with patient-physician or patient-family-physician communications as we move forward and how will AR play a role?
I envision patient-physician communication will mirror the digital trends and channels that we embrace in our daily lives. We have seen how the internet and mobile devices have impacted our lives by providing us with 24/7 access to information. The Pew Research Center says looking for health or medical information is one of the most popular online activities, with more people looking for specific medical issues or treatments over topics like insurance, drugs, or fitness. I believe our reliance on technology will continue to grow. Augmented reality is one technology that can be used to supplement patients’ desire to understand the treatment their physician is recommending. As a learning and teaching tool, augmented reality complements these and other industry challenges and emerging communication trends.