Virtual reality, or VR, is shaping up to be the next big technology to revolutionize the healthcare industry. From training new doctors to innovative ways of diagnosing and helping patients, virtual reality brings some major new methods for interactions in healthcare. Some practices even already started implementing virtual reality into their treatments and training.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality brings you into a computer-generated environment through the use of a VR headset or full room projections. These environments can mimic the real world with sophisticated code or contain elements with no resemblance to the real world. However, when it comes to healthcare, VR environments emulating the real world is where this technology truly shines.
This technology also lets the user interact with that environment through a controller or even gloves with sensors throughout the hands. You can use this to allow new doctors to train in real-world situations without the high risks associated with medical procedures. They can fine-tune their ability to perform surgery or any other medical procedure in a safe environment while still receiving immediate feedback.
The Uses of Virtual Reality in Healthcare
As we mentioned before, VR is set to revolutionize the healthcare industry in a variety of ways. It has already seen use in some practices with other specialized companies, creating specific solutions around VR to meet the needs of the healthcare industry. Some of these uses for VR include:
- Psychological therapy;
- Training new doctors;
- Physical therapy;
- Healthcare marketing.
Virtual Reality for Psychological Therapy
A wide range of psychological therapy practices already use teletherapy through video calls. This allows them to still see their patients from long distances without a strenuous commute. It also allows them to give their patients the option for emergency sessions during stressful times away from home. Utilizing teletherapy with existing technology has already been successful for a wide range of practices.
Teletherapy can be significantly improved through the use of virtual reality instead of simple video calls. Instead of only being able to see their patients through a small screen, they can conduct these long-distance sessions as though they were in the office. This can improve the effectiveness of their treatments by being able to see their patient’s full body language. It also makes their patients feel more comfortable during the session instead of having any awkwardness on a video call.
Psychotherapy can also benefit from virtual reality by allowing the doctor to place their patient in a calming environment as soon as they enter their office. They can create generated environments of almost anywhere in the world with relative ease. This can allow their patients to feel like they’re receiving their therapy while they’re relaxing at the beach. A relaxed patient means the patient can open up more about their experiences furthering the effectiveness of the therapy.
Other uses for virtual reality in psychotherapy include the way Embodied Labs uses it. They create immersive experiences to allow their users to experience what it would be like to live with a variety of mental conditions. This can help families of those with these mental conditions better understand what the family member is going through.
Training New Doctors
We briefly mentioned how virtual reality can be used to train new doctors by allowing them to practice their medical procedures. However, the impact of VR could be far more significant than just this. It can also be used to allow the doctor in training to further understand the intricacies of the human body and develop their overall understanding of the human body.
Traditionally, doctors learn and practice with the use of cadavers. With the use of cadavers, these doctors in training simply cannot experience the real way a live human being reacts to different stimuli. VR can be used to create realistic environments with realistic interactions between a doctor and a patient. It can also allow them to see the inner workings of the human body in great detail through a generated environment. Overall, this will lead to doctors straight out of medical school being capable of interacting with patients as though they’re a veteran.
Virtual Reality for Physical Therapy
Another major way VR currently impacts the healthcare industry revolves around further engaging patients in their physical therapy practice. By using virtual reality to improve physical therapy, doctors can gamify the physical therapy experience. This encourages their patients to continue their exercises after their scheduled appointments to improve recovery time. It can also rely on machine learning to tailor the training modules to the patients’ needs. With these tailored training modules, patients can continue the experience of working with a physician in the comfort of their own home.
Utilizing virtual reality to gamify and tailor the physical therapy experience to the patients’ needs also seems to reduce the pain levels of those patients. The study conducted by Washington University found that patients who used virtual reality in their physical therapy sessions reported significantly reduced pain levels. With this reduced pain level, patients can push their physical therapy further to increase their overall recovery times. It also makes them more inclined to attend every physical therapy session. Neuro Rehab VR is already putting these ideas into practice with their physical therapy VR modules.
Healthcare Marketing With Virtual Reality
Spreading awareness of medical illnesses and treatments remains a top priority for a wide range of healthcare businesses. Without awareness of illnesses and treatments for those illnesses, countless people go without receiving the treatment they need simply because they do not know it exists. Virtual reality can help spread this awareness by giving their users a stronger understanding of treatments and illnesses.
Some healthcare companies already started marketing their treatments through the use of VR. They use virtual reality to show their market the exact symptoms of an illness and the procedure for treatments. This allows the user to fully understand what goes on in their body which has always been a difficult task in the healthcare industry. Through the use of healthcare marketing with VR, companies can help their patients better understand their treatments and how those treatments can help them.