How is virtual reality transforming healthcare? Latest trends and news to watch

Virtual Reality (VR) has transformative potential for the healthcare industry by providing a safe and immersive environment where healthcare professionals and patients complete therapies and monitor prognoses.

A 2021 Facts and Factors market research report estimates that virtual reality in healthcare will reach a value of approximately US$40.98 billion by 2026, up from just US$2.70 billion in 2020 However, to unleash its full potential, the industry must first overcome a few initial hurdles. to adoption.

Defining Virtual Reality Healthcare: An Emerging Technology Field

Virtual reality solutions allow healthcare professionals to engage patients in simulated and personalized environments to deliver medical education (such as virtual surgery practice), pain management, or rehabilitation.

It is based on the following technological components:

  • virtual reality equipment – Physicians and patients must use headsets, controllers, trackers and other types of VR hardware to “enter” immersive digital environments. These devices are often specifically designed for medical use while considering accessibility issues and use in hands-free environments.
  • Virtual Healthcare Scenes – Scenes are immersive environments that resemble clinical spaces. They guarantee spatial precision and offer an experience close to the real environment. Common VR healthcare scenes include operating theaters, physical therapy rooms, and even outdoor environments for mental wellness sessions.
  • 3D medical tools – Virtual reality also reproduces medical tools in digital form, which mainly include surgical tools for training as well as diagnostic equipment and other industry-specific objects. Expert designers craft these 3D models with a high level of precision to ensure practical use.
  • Digital twin technology – Digital twin technology makes 3D modeling easier, but allows for a much higher level of precision and accuracy and behaves exactly like their real-world counterparts. Virtual reality healthcare relies on digital twins of molecular structures, organs, and even the entire human body.

Technology offers opportunities for healthcare professionals to learn new skills and refresh existing ones, without putting patients at risk. As a result, the healthcare industry is one of the biggest users of virtual reality, which includes surgical simulation, phobia treatment, and robotic surgery training.

Examples of Transformative Impact of Virtual Reality in Healthcare in 2022

While virtual reality involves significant capital investment, its barriers to adoption are decreasing every day. There are several examples of how organizations are rapidly making inroads into virtual reality healthcare in 2022, a trend that is expected to continue for several years to come.

Latus Health is developing a VR hospital

Latus Health is a leading digital healthcare company and seeks to create a complete clinic or hospital environment in the virtual world.

The company is taking inspiration from the development of the Metaverse by companies like Meta and Microsoft, and expects VR hospitals to become commonplace in the future.

Later this year, Latus Health will launch a virtual reality mental health clinic as the first component of its VR hospital. The program will store patient medical records using blockchain technology, which transfers digital ownership to patients and reduces the risk of data theft.

MyndVR and HTC VIVE Announce Virtual Reality Healthcare for Seniors

VR healthcare company MyndVR recently partnered with HTC VIVE to introduce a new service called MyndConnect. The platform will allow seniors to connect with family members and friends in the metaverse, using virtual reality to eliminate the need to travel.

MyndConnect is a platform designed specifically for senior residences that uses HTC VIVE’s new ultra-lightweight VIVE Flow glasses. The solution responds to the growing awareness of elderly care and the effects of isolation felt during the pandemic period.

XRHealth raises $10 million to build virtual clinics in the metaverse

XRHealth is a technology company focused on developing an open and integrated market for healthcare services in the virtual world. Virtual treatment rooms give clinicians more options to grow their business, improve access for patients, and can improve user convenience and simplicity.

XRHealth supports most major health insurance providers by making its services more affordable. It will play a major role in expanding the healthcare metaverse by providing patients with global access to clinicians with relevant information and treatment capabilities.

Interaxon launches new VR SDK to support brain health innovation

Consumer neurotechnology and meditation company Interaxon will provide virtual reality developers with a software development kit (SDK) and brain sensor headband to collect patient data. It intersects VR healthcare with wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT), to enrich the data available to clinicians and healthcare professionals.

Integrating data from wearable sensors into digital health experiences generates personalized insights, which will greatly improve the user experience for virtual reality healthcare applications.

University of Cambridge adopts HoloPatient Trainer for its medical students

The University of Cambridge, the National Health Service and GigXR are working together to develop a suite of immersive learning solutions for medical students.

Not only will students learn in an immersive and interactive environment, but learning is measured against outcome measures. Above all, students can learn from hyper-realistic content in a VR world.

David King Lassman, founder and CEO of GigXR, told XR Today in an interview that instructors can observe students as they identify the processes of what to do to treat patients.

He said at the time:

“The instructor could observe the students as they identify the processes of what they need to do to treat this patient. We have found this to be extremely impactful and beneficial in training physicians and physicians to deal with the trauma and impact of the pandemic”

Benefits of Virtual Reality in Healthcare

Virtual reality technologies have the potential to dramatically improve patient outcomes and make the care experience less stressful for healthcare professionals.

A 2022 PLOS study found that a few minutes of VR use can reduce the stress levels of frontline COVID workers by several points, with far-reaching implications.

Additionally, virtual reality healthcare solutions could encourage innovation by enabling experiments and trials in a safe environment, without compromising data accuracy.

As with any industry that requires hands-on interactions (such as manufacturing, education, and tourism), healthcare is also a prime candidate for VR adoption.

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