7 Ways Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) Is Revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare is embracing AR/VR in a big way. Over the past few years, Virtual Reality has taken a practical form rather than being confined to the realm of concepts. This has largely become possible due to advancement in camera and sensor technologies. Today, there are umpteen doctors and other health professionals who are adapting to VR simulations to improve learning experiences. 

During the pandemic, when healthcare infrastructure was burdened beyond capacity, AR/VR proved to be the boon of technology for the sector. This holds testament to the fact that such technological aids have become a necessity of our times. 

Pioneering the field of AR/VR, SimInsights has been venturing into training for the healthcare industry.

Train clinicians better, faster and cheaper

1) Nursing

Limited availability of nurse faculty is a big impediment to training procedures. This hampers the ability of nurse faculties to address individual learning needs of the students. The instructional and evaluation capabilities also vary significantly among the different faculty members. Training resources being a critical element in healthcare can be improved tremendously by outsourcing it to technology. It can offer: 

  • Rich learning opportunities for students and help integrate theory with practice while making real-time clinical decisions 
  • Standardize clinical experiences for nurses who are often subjected to unequal learning experiences. 
  • Simulation, to help develop competencies and boost areas of critical thinking and confidence. 

Here’s how SimInsights could train nurses better. 

Example – UCLA Chaperone project. 

The simulation training is done to empower medical chaperones to recognize and speak up against sexual misscounduct at workplace, in order to foster a safe place to learn and practice. The project focuses on: 

  • In-person training focusing on debriefing sessions led by the instructional team, simulation scenarios with standardized patients, polling questions, didactics and discussions
  • The main objective is aimed at helping the chaperones find their voice and build a culture of safety in healthcare facilities. A breakthrough in the AR/VR technology is that the simulation can categorize the intent and not just content. 

Over 80% participants of the Chaperone Project reflected that the Virtual Simulation helped them apply what they had already learnt.

2 ) Surgery: 

AR/VR can salvage the situation: 

  • VR training for procedures is 20% faster and completed 38% more steps correctly than those in traditionally trained groups, according to a study by Western Orthopedic Association 
  • AR enables tele-mentoring, which allows the expert to see what the surgeon is seeing and offer tailored guidance in real-time 

SimInsights has made significant strides in suturing by building a 3D environment for simulation and game-based learning. A safe alternative to traditional surgical training, it allows for a more engaging learning experience and makes it possible to compare training experience with expert performance. 

3) Helping architects improve facility designs for increased patient safety 

Assessing the physical environment is becoming critical to reduce patient injuries during hospitalization and optimally reduce the costs of vr training healthcare related to these injuries. AR/VR could be especially useful in assessing the effect of architectural designs on health, precisely mental health. 

The SimInsights platform accelerates the development of VR based systems that ensure evaluation of rapid facility design using digital facility mockups and ML based analytics. This translates into: 

Cost reduction: By eliminating physical mockups in favour of digital ones 

Convenience: Owing to the availability of all in-simulation video, performance data which could also be utilized for similar use cases 

Automated decision making with machine learning based behaviour analytics 

The project has garnered much appreciation and was published in 50+ conferences and a journal. 

4) Help clinicians empathize with elderly patients 

The ability of doctors to understand and relate to the patient’s experience is of critical importance in the healthcare sector. When a clinician empathizes with the patients, they can play a more proactive role in rendering health services. Though numeric rating scales and visual analogue scales help monitor the patient’s vitals and assess the intensity of pain, they lack a touch of personalized service.

Immersive VR, on the other hand, enables the medics to see the world through the eyes of the patients and thus, empathize with them. 

– Doctors can experience specific conditions and symptoms for themselves via the immersive experience. For example, doctors can watch and participate in a 3D video as a patient suffering from dementia. They can hear conversations from the patient’s family and also hear the thoughts of the patients they embody using VR. 

– VR allows construction of scenarios wherein doctors have to practise giving news about terminal illnesses or end-of-life steps. Witnessing the people’s responses, doctors can tailor their delivery to be more considerate. 

5) Relieving pain 

VR can flood the brain of patients with a multitude of audio-visual signals, engaging the senses and diverting their brain’s attention from processing pain signals. This can reduce people’s acute as well as chronic pain significantly. Using VR, patients can be engaged through challenging and interactive games, and thus, reboot the brain’s pain networks. Immersive VR can be useful in reducing pain during medical procedures such as wound care, chemotherapy, dental procedures and routine medical procedures. VR can act as a non-pharmacological variant of analgesia by exerting an array of emotional affective effects on the body’s pain modulation system. It can also be an interesting tool for learning, cognitive training and rehabilitation and treatment of patients with medical disorders. 

6) Digitizing conference exhibits 

AR/VR solutions can enhance immersive experience and pave the way for opportunities at all levels of learning especially in the healthcare sector. With their ability to share information in a new and engaging manner, they can mitigate physical and intellectual barriers to learning. As immersive learning transitions from small scale experimentation to a multi-million dollar market with rapidly increasing use, it has the potential to transform healthcare facilities across the world.

7 ) Making healthcare training engaging

Healthcare training is very demanding and requires a lot of information to be learned and applied. The healthcare industry is actively looking for ways to make the training more engaging. Many researchers have evaluated the benefits of escape rooms to boost engagement and learning all across the healthcare industry – name the different fields – and found significant benefits. Where physical escape rooms are expensive, VR helps to build them at almost no cost. 

With around 70-80% improvements in healthcare training and user experience, we are looking forward to what new heights can be scaled in this world of infinite possibilities.