How VR in Healthcare is Revolutionizing the Industry
How VR in Healthcare is Revolutionizing the Industry
Although commonly associated with gaming, virtual reality and its tools will revolutionize many industries. From driving fast and skydiving in your living room, virtual reality offers users a unique and fun experience. It also has practical applications in industries such as healthcare: it can help surgeons prep for surgery, it can help patients speed up recovery, and it also has applications in mental health delivery.
Adoption of Virtual Reality in Healthcare
In 2016, the world witnessed the first 360-degree video in which Dr. Shafi Ahmed removed cancer from a patient. Virtual reality technology allows bystanders to view the entire procedure from their desks. More immersive than the traditional training videos, this type of streaming offers medical professionals the ability to spectate a surgery in real time. Viewers become aware of the noise and effort present in the operation room: what tools the doctor is using and what other team members are doing. Healthcare VR thus offers spectators a more immersive educational experience, hoping to reduce cost and improve the training of future surgeons.
This feat is a mere stepping stone. The adoption of VR will rise in numerous industries, and healthcare is just one of them. Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research found that healthcare will be one of the industries most disrupted (read improved) by this technology. Along with gaming and engineering, virtual reality for healthcare will exponentially grow by 2025, when the number of users reaches almost 3.5 million in an industry segment worth over $5 billion.
According to Accenture, 82% of healthcare executives believe this technology removes the hurdle in healthcare access, offering a way to train and educate future healthcare professionals and allowing distant patients or those suffering from disabilities to receive the care they need.
VR only represents a small segment of the ongoing telemedicine solutions. Research shows that patients tend to accept new technologies in their healthcare delivery, given that 62% of consumers stated that they would use VR healthcare. Additionally, 57% of consumers reported that they would be open to donning wearable technology for remote patient monitoring.
These results aren’t surprising: following the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients realized that there are difficulties related to receiving care. From infectious diseases to geographical limitations, impediments to healthcare delivery are present at every step. That is why telemedicine solutions try to make healthcare cheaper and more accessible to all, whether they are dealing with physical or mental pain.
How Can Virtual Reality Be Used in Medicine
We can ask the question: how does this technology work? Both virtual and augmented reality comprise “extended reality” or XR: technologies that blur the boundaries between the real world and a simulated one. The applications of this technology are hard to grasp: it can be used to help patients living in remote areas, and it can help veterans suffering from PTSD through cognitive therapy.
VR in medicine and other industries takes the user out of the physical world and throws him into the simulated one. We achieve this through headsets allowing the users to perceive the simulation and hand-held controllers enabling them to navigate it.
This technology overlays digital objects and thrusts them into the real world. The user can now experience digital objects in the real world.
The entirety of the virtual experience, comprised of virtual and augmented reality, relies on visuals, audio, and other sensations to immerse the user in a simulated setting.
5 VR Applications in Healthcare
We have already briefly mentioned some of the applications of this technology. Now we will take a closer look at what virtual reality can do and some of its benefits.
VR for Medical Training
VR allows the recreation of complex, costly, or dangerous scenarios to simulate in real life. It provides users with an immersive experience involving equipment handling or performing a procedure.
For example, a nurse could use a vein finder to insert an IV on her first try!
This technology allows surgeons to virtually map a patient’s body and area of operation before the surgery starts. George Washington University uses VR technology for neurosurgery and thoracic surgery, drastically improving clinical outcomes. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, using healthcare VR tools enhanced the participants’ overall performance by 230%.
Back in 2019, patients of St. George’s Hospital in Britain were the first to put on virtual headsets to relieve stress and anxiety stemming from their visit to the hospital. This tool helped the patients before and during surgery: 80% said they felt less pain after wearing the headset, and 73% reported feeling less anxious.
Speeds Up Rehabilitation
At the Georgia Institute of Technology, patients and practitioners can experience another benefit of VR in medicine – rehabilitation. Patients undergoing physical therapy are outfitted with robotic devices and virtual reality headsets. Practitioners also put on a headset to receive feedback from their patients and guide them in real-time. In this way, patients recover more quickly as they are immersed with their caregivers, who guide them through the exercises for mobility recovery.
VR technology allows a therapist to accompany an agoraphobic patient to the mall. Only, they won’t really be going anywhere – they would be sitting in the therapist’s office or, given telemedicine solutions, they could each be sitting in their respective homes wearing Crocs.
Using VR in healthcare for mental therapy allows the recreation of stressful events that originated psychological disorders from which the patient might be suffering. In other words, like most telehealth solutions, this one allows for a cheaper, more efficient, and more comfortable care delivery experience.
With decades of experience in the healthcare industry, Vicert has the ability and knowledge to develop a solution to fit your exact business needs. If you want to learn more about VR in healthcare or require any of our numerous health tech solutions, from remote patient monitoring to software to ease your workflow processes and improve clinical outcomes – book a call with us!