Larry Langdon
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5 Use Cases For Virtual Reality In Healthcare

The future of healthcare continues to be impacted by new technology. One such innovation that has found a great deal of success in this industry is virtual reality (VR). When VR is implemented in various healthcare applications, it has proven to increase access, reduce costs, and improve outcomes. It is for these reasons that VR will play a bigger role in the delivery of health services well into the future. But how exactly can virtual reality be used in this industry? In this article, we will take a closer look at five ways that VR can be effective when used in the healthcare arena.

 

What Is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Virtual reality is quite honestly the next best thing to actually being there. The “there” is any specific location that can be made into a VR environment. Virtual reality is a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment. When a user wears VR glasses or a VR helmet, their field of vision changes to what appears to be a completely different place. This “virtual” location is made from the computer-generated “reality” and permits interaction with virtual beings, objects, and much more.

 

VR For Pain Management

It is proven that when the brain is distracted from pain, it gets easier to cope with the discomfort. With VR, the user's view changes to something pleasant making the pain more manageable in a drug-free manner. Studies have shown that VR for pain management is successful in both adults and children as it creates an immersive atmosphere that takes the mind off of the immediate surroundings. This application could also be effective in altering the clinical setting with a VR setting relieving stress and anxiety experienced by many patients who fear certain tests or procedures. Virtual reality can be a game-changer when chronic pain is the issue by simply providing a high-tech distraction that moves the focus away from the condition or concern.

 

VR For Surgical Training

VR used in the training of new surgeons is ground-breaking and will probably become the most significant way the technology will impact the healthcare industry. Surgical training without VR has always been the same with the teaching of theory in classrooms, cadaver-based teaching viewed in theaters, operating room observation, practice hands-on with cadavers, and monitored interaction with live patients. A VR-based solution will shift the focus to where several surgeons can train simultaneously in the same VR setting regardless of their physical location. With this type of collaborative training, it enhances learning as is the opportunity for assessment. VR training also offers a practical way for medical device manufacturing companies to provide workshops or training sessions.

 

VR For Mental Health

Sickness and disability are often caused by mental issues. Studies verify that technologies that extend reality, such as VR, can be effective in reducing phobias, the treatment of PTSD, relieving social anxiety, and helping people to deal with paranoia and anxiety that plague them in public settings. There are already a variety of user-centered VR-based tools in place that have been become mental health treatments. To date, they have been effective and are currently much faster in reaching desired outcomes than traditional methods. Also, VR-based mental health treatments have become far more effective in the long run in comparison to traditional tools. With VR providing a direct pathway to the brain, it makes sense that it will have an impact on disorders of a mental variety.

 

VR For Telehealth

Virtual reality puts telehealth into a completely different sphere that is far beyond that of a smartphone, computer, or tablet-based virtual doctor visits. With telehealth available through VR, a doctor visit becomes an immersive experience where an offer of a demonstration takes place on the spot, patients can learn how to use certain products, the correct methods in applying these products, how to properly take certain measurements, and much more. The best part about VR-based telehealth is that with the correct internet connection, a patient can attend an appointment without having to leave home. This is particularly useful for patients living in remote locations, patients with mobility issues, and patients unable to physically attend appointments due to inclement weather conditions.

 

VR For Patient Engagement/Education

Thanks to easy access to the internet, the average patient is well informed. It is common for patients to turn to the world wide web for answers to their medical questions however, the answers available are just that. With virtual reality, companies can take patients into learning settings with lessons that can help individuals gain a much better understanding than can be achieved through just text. As already explained above, attendance at a VR-based teaching event remotely provides better access to everyone. Plus, being able to see and experience how specific tools work or learn more about a condition without having to pour over a mountain of reference books not only enhances the educational phase but also results in a better, well-rounded understanding of the information.

 

Final Thoughts

With resources in the healthcare industry getting stretched to the max, one tool that may relieve some of that pressure and improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery is virtual reality. VR allows doing a lot of different things without the added costs of accomplishing the same goals. Applying VR to pain management, surgical training, mental health, telehealth, and patient engagement/education is very easy. With studies that confirm the use of VR as being effective in the delivery of healthcare services, it is safe to say that technology is only just starting to scratch the surface of what it can do for the future of this industry and how it provides service to users. VR has graduated from the world of gaming to the more serious arena of healthcare and has proven to be not only up for the challenge but able to produce many wins along the way. Expect to see more applications of virtual reality very shortly. With the way new technology continues to evolve, VR has a lot to offer and is likely to have more to offer as the technology grows.

 

Marina Turea works as content manager at Digital Authority Partners, a Las Vegas marketing and SEO agency.

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