Distance to experiences
Perhaps the greatest potential for XR-based disruption is through delivering shared and collaborative healthcare experiences. Clinicians cannot live the experiences of their patients, but they can try to better understand conditions—even gain empathy—through XR. For instance, Embodied Labs creates virtual reality labs that allow workforce training for aging services. The “We Are Alfred” lab shows young medical students how it feels to be a 74-year-old with audio and visual impairments. “The Beatriz” lab takes users on a journey of progressive Alzheimer’s disease.6
XR allows clinicians to understand the struggle of diseases such as mental illness, and also allows those struggling to get the care they need. For instance, researchers have seen compelling results using VR therapy to address post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans, letting patients confront triggering stressors while talking through their responses with therapists in real time.
In collaboration with the US government, the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California created Bravemind, a virtual reality-based exposure therapy tool that puts psychologically scarred veterans in environments that allow them to face the triggers, or cues, that cause trauma. They found that stress symptoms, including depression, decreased by as much as 80 percent after the treatments.7
Extended reality technologies can also help even the youngest of patients. Hospitals are using XR to distract kids from painful experiences, such as injections or dressing changes. The young child about to have an IV inserted can leave the sterile hospital room and head underwater to a virtual ocean.8 Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami developed immersive VR content to train medical professionals on proper CPR techniques.9
XR is pushing industry leaders to not only think differently about what is possible, but also to create new solutions that bypass the distance-based challenges they face today—a clear advantage for those that embrace it. Many (79 percent) health executives believe it’s important for their organization to be a pioneer in extended reality solutions.
Immersive medical education
The Cleveland Clinic is transitioning its current traditional, cadaver-based anatomy curriculum to a multi-platform digital experience that allows healthcare students worldwide to learn human anatomy concepts in an interactive virtual digital environment. The multi-platform digital solution features anatomy content based on Cleveland Clinic’s own medical school syllabus of clinically based learning modules. The organization is partnering with Zygote, a company that brings digital skills and insights, along with 360-degree views of 3D models of human anatomy that can be shared globally via the cloud for accessible group learning. The intellectual property, clinical skills and technical skills of these two organizations combined is setting a new standard in digital medical education.
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1 “Florida Hospital Tampa Integrates Virtual Reality Into Surgical Planning and Patient Education,” Florida Hospital website, October 25, 2016
2 “Texas surgeons perform first sinus surgery using AR,” MobiHealthNews, March 14, 2018
3 The Body VR website
4 “Virtual reality headsets might help cure genetic diseases,” Futurism, September 22,2017
5 “Accenture Develops Artificial Intelligence-Powered Solution to Help Improve How Visually Impaired People Live and Work” Accenture press release; July 28, 2017
6 Embodied Labs website
7 USC Institute for Creative Technologies website; Medical Virtual Reality
8 “VR could be your next painkiller,” CNET, March 13, 2018
9 “Next Galaxy to Develop Virtual Reality Applications for Miami Children's Hospital,” March 2015