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Mayo Clinic XR/VR/AR Technology Case Study

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Mayo Clinic XR/VR/AR Technology Case Study

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Extended reality (XR), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) are revolutionizing healthcare, particularly in the areas of medical training and patient care.

Medical training is an essential aspect of producing competent and skilled healthcare professionals. XR/VR/AR technologies have opened novel avenues for medical students, residents, and practicing physicians to enhance their training in a safe, controlled, and immersive environment. Three examples:

  • VR simulators enable medical students to perform complex medical procedures virtually. These simulations range from laparoscopic surgeries to dental procedures, allowing learners to practice and refine their skills without the risk associated with real-life surgery.
  • AR learning apps have brought the study of human anatomy to life. Medical students use AR-enabled devices to view and interact with 3D anatomical models overlaid onto the physical body, making learning more engaging and memorable, and driving better patient outcomes.
  • AR healthcare applications enable specialists to provide real-time virtual consultations to healthcare professionals in remote or underserved areas. This bridges the gap between medical expertise and patients in need, thereby enhancing heathcare access globally.

In addition to medical training, XR/VR/AR technologies also provide invaluable tools for diagnosis and treatment. In the area of surgical planning and navigation, XR/VR/AR technologies assist surgeons to plan complex procedures with greater precision. For example, neurosurgeons now view 3D reconstructions of a patient's brain before performing surgery, allowing for better navigation during the actual procedure, reducing surgical risks, and improving patient outcomes. One neurosurgeon told me he changes his surgical approach 24% of the time because of the insights he gains from 3D immersive technology.

Patient care is at the heart of the healthcare industry, and XR/VR/AR technologies have significantly improved both the patient experience and outcomes. For example, in pain management, XR/VR/AR applications are used to distract patients from pain and anxiety during medical procedures. By immersing patients in a virtual world, the perception of pain can be reduced leading to more relaxed and comfortable patient experiences. University of Pennsylvania is leading the way in patient management and distraction, especially when treating children with cancer. XR/VR/AR is also being utilized as a therapeutic tool for patients with mental health disorders, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and phobias. There is a whole new area called ‘exposure therapy,’ where a trained therapist collaborates with patients in a controlled virtual environment to help them confront and manage their fears more effectively.

Let’s now turn to the fascinating Mayo-Clinic Case Study.

The Mayo Clinic has its origins in the 1880s, when William and Charles Mayo joined their father's general practice in Rochester, New York. Three essential things contributed to the creation of the Mayo Clinic: a family of ambitious doctors; an order of Catholic sisters; and the advent of hospital-based aseptic surgery. The Mayo Clinic has always been a physician-led organization, which the physicians feel leads to better quality of care.

Today, the Mayo Clinic is one of the world’s most celebrated medical institutions with 5 campuses located in three states – Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida. US News & World Report ranks Mayo Clinic as the #1 hospital in the nation and the Mayo Clinic is ranked #1 in more specialties than any other hospital in the nation. It is home to many of the most brilliant minds in medicine, cutting-edge healthcare research, and continued innovation. It has 76,000 employees including more than 4,000 research personnel, that care for more than 1.4 million unique patients annually coming from all 50 US states and 130 countries. Simply said, it is a true gem in the field of healthcare!

What impresses me the most about the Mayo Clinic is their culture of innovation, their universally renowned research and novel therapies that leverage their $500 million annual research budget, and their pioneering effort to apply XR/VR/AR technologies to benefit patients.

Here are a few examples of how Mayo Clinic is applying XR/VR/AR technologies that span medical training, strokes, orthopedic and spinal surgeries.

  • For several years, Mayo Clinic physicians have been using VR headsets to train on new medical equipment. This allows the physicians to be onboarded quickly and to be able to use the equipment effectively.
  • In early 2022, Mayo Clinic began developing VR software to improve neurological evaluations of stoke victims. Many of these patients are not mobile, making it difficult for the patients to see neurologists in person. The goal of the VR software is to augment telestroke examinations and enable at-home monitoring of patients with chronic neurological conditions. The patient wears a VR headset to perform periodic VR tests aimed at catching early signs of progression, monitoring treatment response or screening for abnormalities.
  • Later in 2022, Mayo Clinic created a strategic partnership with ImmersiveTouch for orthopedic surgeries. ImmersiveTouch is a leading medical technology company offering VR and AR surgical planning & navigation platforms. Mayo Clinic uses ImmersiveTouch’s AR platform to provide surgeons with 3D holographic “X-Ray vision” through the skin that allows the surgeon to visualize a patient specific anatomy at various surgical phases and helps the surgeons navigate their instruments more accurately.
  • In early 2023, Mayo Clinic announced a strategic partnership with MediView XR, a leading clinical AR med-tech company that displays 3D patient anatomy. Mayo Clinic surgeons use MediView’s AR technology to resolve the 2D medical imaging limitations that lack integration between medical images and the location of the surgeon’s tools. 3D tools provide real-time feedback that surgical instruments are in the proper anatomical location and inform the surgeon of potential imminent medical errors.
  • Just last month – in June 2023 – Mayo Clinic partnered with a company called Surgical Theater to assist with spinal surgeries. Mayo Clinic surgeons use Surgical Theater’s AR tools to create a 3D model based on patient scans during the pre-operation phase. The surgeon uses these scans to see past tissue and bone while using a minimally invasive procedure to remove a tumor. The scans also create VR models that allow patients to understand the procedure better.

Mayo Clinic’s pioneering spirit is both refreshing and commendable as they continue to raise the bar on the ‘art of the possible’ for applying XR/VR/AR technology in healthcare.

In closing, while high-end XR/VR/AR equipment can be costly limiting access to certain healthcare facilities, and while patient data privacy and security issues using XR/VR/AR technology remain a concern, the integration of XR/VR/AR technology has reshaped the healthcare landscape, revolutionized medical training, and improved patient care experiences. From enhancing medical education and training to offering innovative solutions for diagnosis and treatment, XR/VR/AR technologies continue to drive advancements in healthcare. As these technologies evolve, healthcare professionals and patients can look forward to a future where medical practices are safer, more efficient, and more patient-centered than ever before.


My Metaverse business partner, Tim Bajarin, and I are keen to assist healthcare companies at each step of the way to ensure their successful entry into the Metaverse. To read about additional healthcare and related Metaverse case studies, I strongly encourage you to visit ISM’s award-winning Metaverse Resource Center –  – where in addition to gaining access to more than 275 Metaverse case studies, more than 275 Metaverse articles, and more than 100 Metaverse videos, you can download ISM’s new ‘8 Steps to Do Business Successfully in the Metaverse’ White Paper, download ISM’s New ‘VR Training Guide for the Enterprise,’ learn about and sign-up for ISM’s complimentary 2-hour Metaverse Executive Bootcamp, and more. 


Barton Goldenberg ( is president of ISM, Inc. Since 1985, ISM has established itself as the premier strategic advisor leveraging leading edge technologies – the Metaverse, Digital Communities, and CRM – to create and implement customer strategy with a focus on sales, marketing and customer service. His thought leadership including creator of the ‘Business Success in a Virtual World’ podcast, creator of the award winning Metaverse Resource Center, and author of three business books including The Definitive Guide to Social CRM. He is also in high demand as a keynote speaker (


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