Dr Tommy Korn shares his thoughts on how Apple Vision Pro can revolutionize healthcare

Vision Pro headset at Apple Store

Healthcare systems are always looking for ways to improve patient outcomes, expand research, education, and clinical collaboration opportunities, increase accuracy, safety, and efficiency, and lower costs. For these reasons, healthcare providers are particularly excited about the possibilities Apple’s Vision Pro headset offers in healthcare. 

With its powerful spatial computer, Vision Pro blends real-world experience with digital content on its infinite canvas to create 3-D and immersive material that helps healthcare teams provide care and improves patient outcomes, whether the patient is in the hospital, at the doctor’s office, or receiving care in their own home. 

Vision Pro’s operating system, VisionOS, allows healthcare developers to blend technology and medicine, creating lifelike simulations and previously unimaginable content for clinical education and training, surgical planning, medical records and imaging, behavioral health, and more.

Recent Apple patents point to a future where the Vision Pro helps people manage things like medication reminders, detecting hydration levels, and even identify if a person has fallen or is experiencing a seizure. 

We sat down with our friend Dr. Tommy Korn to discuss how Vision Pro advances Apple’s mission to revolutionize healthcare and wellness.

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About Dr. Tommy Korn

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Tommy Korn, MD, is an Ophthalmologist & Chief Physician Evangelist for Digital Health Innovations & an IT Board Member at Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, California. He spearheads Sharp’s digital healthcare initiatives into various technologies, including Apple CareKit, Apple Watch, and iPads, to improve patient care and healthcare processes.

The Sharp Health Companion app, created by his team, was one of the first healthcare apps to utilize the Apple CareKit health platform to empower senior patients to prepare and recover from cataract eye surgery.

Dr. Korn is a trailblazer in digital health imaging. He uses his iPhone Pro to capture precise eye photos, enabling him to document disease progression and educate patients. This has established him as a leader in digital ophthalmology.

Here are some of the key insights from our conversation with Dr. Korn.

How can health practitioners use Apple Vision Pro to improve patient care? How can providers use spatial computing to help in telemedicine?

Vision Pro used by Dr. Tommy Korn at a lecture
Photo courtesy of Sharp HealthCare

In embracing spatial computing via Apple Vision Pro, it’s essential for healthcare clinicians to start by asking the most basic question for any new technology tool: What is the job to be done? What am I hiring this digital technology to do to help my patients?

This simple approach ensures we pinpoint the exact functions so clinicians can leverage Apple Vision Pro and spatial computing to their fullest potential.

Initially, I see spatial computing fulfilling three pivotal roles:

First, it is a revolutionary tool for clinicians to visualize and manage medical data in a three-dimensional space, providing an unparalleled digital canvas.

Despite the ability to capture 3D medical imaging technologies (CT, MRI scans), clinicians have been limited to using 2D screens (monitors, tablets) to view 3D data. With the Apple Vision Pro, we break through this flat 2D barrier and enter a realm where we interact with 3D medical data in its true form.

Second, it holds the potential to serve as a catalyst for accelerating and refining decision-making, with notable applications across various medical contexts that are on the horizon but not yet fully realized.

Imagine the possibility of employing spatial computing for precise IV placements in hospital bedside care. Consider the future where surgical planning is enhanced by the ability to precisely determine incision locations through radiological data overlay directly onto the patient’s body.

And envision a scenario where medical procedures, such as central line insertions in the ICU or managing pneumothorax in emergency settings, are significantly improved in accuracy and safety using Apple Vision Pro and spatial computing.

Finally, the Apple Vision Pro is set to tackle a common hurdle in healthcare head-on: the challenge of doctor-to-doctor telecommunication.

“In the fast-paced world of medicine, discussions between doctors often get reduced to quick texts, emails, or the rare luxury of a phone call, leaving little room for the kind of deep collaboration that can change patient outcomes.”

Enter spatial computing with the Apple Vision Pro, a game changer that brings doctors together in a shared virtual space. This isn’t just about sending messages; it’s about standing side by side in a digital realm, where they can interact with 3D scans, images, and data as if they were physically present with each other.

Imagine doctors from any hospital discussing complex cases, pointing out details on a virtual X-ray, or exploring surgical approaches together in real time.

It’s a level of global teamwork and clarity we’ve dreamed about, made possible by stepping into this new dimension of spatial communication, all with the aim of finding the best paths forward for our patients.

These are the reasons why I am excited about Apple Vision Pro and spatial computing. For the first time, healthcare has the opportunity to leapfrog other industries in digital transformation and reduce burnout from archaic technologies.

What potential and future applications do you see the Apple Vision Pro offering in healthcare and eye care? What excites you about this technology?

Using Apple Vision Pro for eye surgery
Photo courtesy of Sharp HealthCare

As an ophthalmologist, the advent of the Apple Vision Pro opens up unprecedented possibilities in the realm of eye care.

The Apple Vision Pro, however, takes personal computing to a new level by positioning itself as an extension of our eyes—the most critical organ for interpreting the world around us. This positioning makes it an incredibly personal device.

“If you think about it, our eyes are physically connected to our brains. Thus, Apple Vision Pro is a wearable computer that is not just an extension of our eyes but also our minds.”

What excites me most about this technology is its potential to assist individuals with visual impairments and possibly detect systemic diseases through eye data that were previously elusive. Many companies are already venturing into spatial apps to unlock these capabilities, signaling a bright future for eye care.

However, the most crucial aspect of this technological evolution is privacy.

The Apple Vision Pro collects data directly from our eyes, including iris recognition and eye tracking, touching upon the core of human privacy.

Apple Vision Pro uses an advanced and interconnected system of LED and infrared cameras to project invisible light patterns onto each of your eyes. The data that’s used to calibrate your Apple Vision Pro to your eyes is stored and protected on the device.

It’s paramount that as we navigate this new frontier, we prioritize patient privacy while still pushing the boundaries of how we can enhance lives.

Importantly, Apple has always emphasized user control and privacy, ensuring users have the autonomy to manage their eye data. This commitment by Apple to putting users in charge of their information and making safe, informed decisions is a cornerstone of why I’m optimistic about the Apple Vision Pro’s role in healthcare. It’s not just about groundbreaking technology; it’s about advancing care in a way that respects and protects the sacredness of our eyes and the privacy of the individuals we serve.

What are some of the best practices you recommend as an ophthalmologist for Vision Pro users to maintain their eye health? Do you have any tips for avoiding eye strain, fatigue, and other symptoms of visual discomfort? Apple Vision Pro user with gesture

In the era of advancing technology, the wisdom of moderation remains paramount. As we integrate devices like the Apple Vision Pro into our daily lives—positioned directly before our eyes—it’s crucial to be mindful of the potential for overuse.

With average screen times already stretching between five to seven hours daily, the immersive nature of such devices could inadvertently lead to extended exposure, emphasizing the need for conscious use to maintain eye health.

Prolonged screen use causes a reduction in eyelid blink rate, leading to what is known as computer vision syndrome. Normally, we should blink 15 to 20 times per minute, but this rate can decrease dramatically when we’re engrossed in screens, causing our corneas to dry out.

This dryness can result in discomfort, eye pain, and the sensation of a foreign object in the eye. It’s important to note that the light emitted by the Apple Vision Pro itself is not harmful to your eyes; the issue lies in the decreased blinking and subsequent corneal dryness.

To combat this, I recommend several best practices for Vision Pro users:

  • Take Breaks: Regularly pause your screen time to rest your eyes. Short intervals away from the screen can help mitigate the effects of computer vision syndrome.
  • Keep Your Eyes Hydrated: Apply preservative-free artificial tears before using the Vision Pro or any screen for prolonged periods to keep your eyes moist and prevent dryness.
  • Blink Your Eyes Often: Make a conscious effort to blink more frequently to protect your corneas and reduce the risk of ocular discomfort.

Adopting these practices ensures that your use of devices like the Apple Vision Pro is both productive and protective of your eye health, allowing you to leverage technology’s benefits while safeguarding against the risks of dry eye syndrome from computer screens

Why did Sharp HealthCare buy a fleet of Apple Vision Pros for its innovation center?

Sharp HealthCare staff and Dr. Tommy Korn with Apple Vision Pro units
Photo courtesy of Sharp HealthCare

Dr. Tommy asked Sharp’s Innovation Center’s Director of Simulation and Innovative Learning, Carmen N. Spalding, Ph.D., RN, CHSE-A, to answer this question. 

Spatial computing (SC) has been a part of healthcare simulation for a long time. The Sharp Innovation Center is poised to utilize Apple’s Vision Pro spatial computing headsets to support and enhance their healthcare simulations in several transformative ways.

By equipping trainees with Apple Vision Pros, we could immerse the participants in highly realistic medical scenarios. A spatial application could simulate a mass casualty event in which disaster team members can elevate traditional tabletop simulation to enhance realism and incorporate environmental and geographical considerations. 

There are also spatial apps to create an overlay on a partial task trainer for a nurse learning to start an IV. As a multiple hospital entity, we could use the technology to allow learners to participate from their respective workspaces.

These spatial applications’ capabilities to provide highly detailed, objective feedback can be valuable in training our staff in new therapies and techniques. The only limit is our imagination.

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A. Beth Whittenberger
I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


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