Imagine a sick and elderly patient in a remote village consulting with a renowned medical specialist without ever leaving their home.

Or, a medical student practicing surgical techniques at home in a fully virtual setting, rather than in a medical laboratory.

These are just two of the endless scenarios made possible by the rising application of Extended Reality (XR) in the healthcare sector.

XR, comprising of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), merges and blurs the line between the physical and virtual world.

(Source: Healthcare in Europe)


The pharmaceutical industry had been on the verge of transformation for many years. However, they’ve embraced the adoption of digital technology at a pace never imagined before.

The potential uses of XR are enough to boggle the mind. It covers all aspects of the healthcare industry, including:

– Medical research and drug discovery

– Enhanced efficiency of pharmaceutical manufacturing

– Surgical training for medical students

– Early identification of life-threatening diseases

– Advanced therapy and rehabilitation for chronic illnesses, and more.


Promising Statistics

ResearchAndMarkets predicts that by 2026, the combined value of AR and VR in the global healthcare industry will be worth $10.82 billion, witnessing a CAGR of 36.1%.

What’s more, the healthcare sector has the potential to provide a boost of a whopping £1.4 trillion to the global GDP by 2030 by utilizing these advanced technologies.

82% of health professionals agree that XR will successfully remove the major hurdle of distance in accessing people and offering better services.

Real-Life Applications

Using AR and VR has already enabled healthcare professionals to perform hundreds of medical miracles across the world. This goes to show the broad scope of how much more they can achieve through XR.

– As early as 2017, VR technology helped the chief of pediatric medical surgery in a hospital in Minnesota perform an incredibly delicate surgery to separate conjoined twins.

– In a Florida hospital, VR models can allow neurosurgeons, patients and their families to look inside the anatomy of a patient’s brain tumor or aneurysm, helping them come up with effective treatments.



– In Germany, a startup called Goodly Innovations developed an AR suite called OptiworX for pharma and biopharma manufacturing, enabling technicians to increase their productivity and efficiency by performing multiple tasks in real time.

– Life science manufacturer io offers innovative AR solutions for laboratories including voice-guided instructions, technique demonstrations, and hands-free data capture.

(Source: Geoweek News)


– A study conducted at UCLA found that surgeons who trained with VR goggles on were 20% faster and completed 38% more steps correctly. 

– A medical application called EyeDecide uses AR to show ophthalmologists an accurate simulation of a particular patient’s vision and the effects of eye-related conditions like cataracts.

Uses of XR in Medical Marketing

1) Product Demonstration: Marketing New Products

Leveraging XR can lead to a better understanding of how new medical products or treatments work. Facilitating effective communication between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals is a key factor in increasing sales. Soon, medical sales representatives will use AR and VR technology to create interactive and immersive product demonstrations and enhanced e-detailing of their upcoming products.

These amazing demonstrations will help the major stakeholders of life science companies get better in-depth knowledge about the complex medical concepts that go behind these medical products and what value they can add for them.

For example, when marketing a new surgical instrument, if pharma marketers can enable doctors to experience first-hand how the device operates, it will improve a surgical procedure’s accuracy when used on a patient.

(Source: Random42)

2) Seeing “Future” Selves: Experiential Marketing

Using the power of VR and AR technology, pharmaceutical companies can offer unique visual experiences that are sure to engage customers. As marketers already know well, humans respond better to the visual.

Experiential marketing adds immense value to the sales and marketing process. Imagine a doctor accurately visualizing human anatomy on a large scale, or patients being able to see exactly how a new drug will affect their body and health.

One of the most exciting avenues for applying experiential marketing is showing a patient an accurate 3D simulation of what their “future self” might look like. For example, what they’ll look like if they continued a particular cancer treatment, underwent a voluntary cosmetic procedure and much more.

(Source: Samsung Business Insights)


Towards the (Near) Future

Soon, pharmaceutical companies will release all-in-one mobile apps that give customers an immersive XR experience, from realistic animations showing the effects of a prescribed medicine inside their body, to facilitating virtual consultations with doctors.

More such authentic and interactive digital experiences like this will lead to unlimited benefits among patients and healthcare providers. It will provide patients with the unique opportunity to become an integral part of their own health journey, and through that, trust pharma brands more.

We’re inching close to the day that patients will interact with pharma brands in ways never imagined before. Until then, we’d recommend pharmaceutical marketers like you continue to bulk up your brand awareness and customer engagement with dynamic digital campaigns.

You can start by expanding the reach of your digital campaigns. Now more than ever because of the pandemic, consumers are seriously researching health-related information online. Engaging with them through targeted digital advertising campaigns can help your brand find new audience segments.

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