When it comes to virtual reality (VR) software, most people visualize gaming or entertainment apps; the idea of virtual reality in healthcare is not something that usually comes to mind. Although VR is not a novel concept, few people equate this HiTech technology with the medical industry or even with MedTech products. That being said, healthcare VR is quickly becoming one of the hottest and fastest growing trends in the medical sector.
In this post, we’ll discuss the many different ways virtual reality can benefit the healthcare industry and how the future of VR is heavily focused on medicine. First, let’s explore what exactly virtual reality is and its unique role in the healthcare industry.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is a term used to describe a simulated experience or setting generated by a computer. The simulation can be created to represent something very close to reality or can be used to design a completely different environment altogether.
One of the defining characteristics of virtual reality is the ability of a programmer to create a unique and customized testing environment. This is key when considering the benefits of VR for the healthcare sector.
The role of virtual reality in the medical field is vast. Doctors, surgeons, nurses, and even medical equipment technicians can develop or improve their skills by testing out products or procedures and obtaining simulated results prior to treating the patient. There is no need to use animal testing or even trial testing on humans for advancing medical protocols, products, or surgeries. All healthcare professionals need to do is to put on their VR headsets and enter the simulated environment to test out their theories or strategies and the computer simulation will generate a variety of potential outcomes.
These outcomes, in turn, can help healthcare professionals learn more about the services and techniques they wish to use with patients, help them perfect their methods,and potentially reduce surgery time — all without having to test on live subjects.
How Can Virtual Reality Be Used In Medicine?
VR is revolutionizing healthcare as we know it. While major companies have introduced a range of virtual reality products in the past few years, most of these apps are mass marketed to the public as gaming and entertainment experiences. Still, the healthcare industry stands to benefit the most from VR products.
From telemedicine appointments to even surgery simulations, VR healthcare apps are poised to transform the medical industry as we know it. Below are some of the many ways in which virtual reality can be incorporated into the healthcare sector and help improve the medical methods and tactics provided to patients.
Virtual Reality for Medical Training
Perhaps one of the most important and groundbreaking benefits that can be attributed to virtual reality applications in healthcare is the ability of this technology to provide a safe and innovative learning environment for medical training. While VR tech is especially beneficial for medical students who may not yet have the skills or experience to treat or operate on patients, it also provides established doctors and surgeons with a platform from which they can practice difficult procedures or test the outcomes of various treatments prior to performing them on actual patients.
Below, we explore the various advantages of virtual reality for medical training as it applies to both students and attending physicians.
VR in Education: Training Programs for Medical School Students
For med school students, being able to enter a virtual reality training setting offers an incredible opportunity to practice their techniques, experiment with different procedures, and ultimately perfect their skills. Because the students are engaging with a simulated environment, any mistakes they make will not cause anyone harm. Plus, the VR program can be reset after each simulation to allow the student to assess their mistakes, determine how to correct them, and start the procedure anew.
Aside from the simulated setting, MedTech VR programs also allow students to download their sessions and review their actions to help them determine what they did right and wrong, which can exponentially increase their likelihood of success in medical school and beyond. These educational programs can even serve as a refresher for more advanced students or even practitioners looking for a refresher course.
Healthcare VR Programs for Established Physicians or Surgeons
The number of hospitals offering practitioners the opportunity to test the nuances of virtual reality in medicine and surgery are growing. Just as VR can help medical students, the benefits also extend to established physicians.
For doctors or surgeons who have an impending complex treatment to offer or medical procedure to undertake, virtual reality healthcare programs can help with practicing a complicated technique. VR MedTech apps also offer similar benefits in the fact that they can offer a play-by-play of their techniques used during simulated surgical procedures so doctors can learn from their errors and avoid the same potential mistakes when it comes time to operate on the patient.
In sum, virtual reality healthcare applications allow both students and trained medical professionals to practice and perfect their skills. Instead of having to rely on the old-fashioned method of trial and error with a human patient, VR prevents potential mistakes from happening by allowing doctors to work through their tactics and either confidently provide a patient with a course of treatment or enter an operating room knowing they have reviewed numerous potential scenarios and can offer their patients the most accurate and tested treatment method or approach possible.
How Is Virtual Reality Being Used to Evoke Empathy In Healthcare?
Not only can virtual reality healthcare software help doctors and medical students train for procedures, the technology can also help providers empathize with their patients on a deeper level by experiencing the world as they do.
VR can simulate a range of conditions and symptoms, from learning disabilities to dementia to psychological trauma. Doctors and even therapists using virtual reality in healthcare settings for the purpose of gaining insight into the mind and emotions of patients can thus learn how to better relate to their needs and offer medical services on a more personal level.
Virtual Reality for Patients
Besides doctors and medical students, patients can also learn a lot about their own health through virtual reality MedTech software. As the pandemic has shown us, now, more than ever, it is crucial to educate the public regarding healthcare. VR programs can show patients exactly what is happening inside their bodies, whether they are actively fighting a disease or as a preventative measure, so they can take a more proactive approach with their own health. Virtual reality can also help patients prepare for procedures or even childbirth by offering them a simulation of what they can expect, easing their concerns and helping them to be less nervous before treatment.
Aside from a medical setting, virtual reality has several more applicable uses from an educational standpoint. VR can serve as an incredible teaching tool for children in school, helping them learn about their anatomy and bringing a new element of fun to the classroom setting. Whether in person or remote, kids can interact with each other through virtual reality applications and learn in 3D.
What’s Next for Virtual Reality in Healthcare?
As VR software continues to evolve and become a staple with smart devices, so too will the need for the healthcare sector to become more engrossed in this modern technology. Medicine, like VR, is constantly advancing and there’s no telling what’s in store for the role of virtual reality in healthcare in the years to come. There’s a large chance that we’ll even be doing away with in-person doctor appointments and meeting with physicians in a virtual reality office or going to school in 3D virtual classrooms in the very near future.
There is tremendous value for MedTech companies to capitalize on VR tech. If you are in the medical field and have an idea for a MedTech app that promotes virtual reality in healthcare, speak to an experienced developer to explore your options. Contact Koombea today to learn more about incorporating VR into your medical app.