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Modernization methods: virtual and augmented reality in health – Med-Tech Innovation


Shona Blackhall, Learning and Development Product Manager at Allocate, examines ways in which virtual reality and augmented reality technologies can help organizations reduce risk and modernize learning and training methods.

Over the past 20 years, significant advances have been made in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies. They are used more and more in real-world applications as their versatility continues to improve and impress. The gaming industry led the way with 171 million users in 2018. Today, other industries are turning to the value of these evolving immersive technologies and, in particular, how they can transform skills upgrading and knowledge transfer.

Workplace learning and training in health care is no exception. Here, virtual reality can provide healthcare providers with the ability to create and recreate scenarios in which employees can learn by doing, but without potential consequence. The ability to eliminate the risk of making mistakes in real life is a major benefit to the healthcare industry and can be used in a variety of ways.

Organizations can, for example, create immersive scenarios of high-risk events, disasters and attacks, as well as safety and rescue training, and even medical and surgical training when used parallel to the simulated touch, smell and weight. VR can also be used in training to improve patient care, for example, by providing students with the opportunity to experience the increased feelings of autism, the feeling of partial blindness and the potential confusion of hearing loss.

Due to the immersive and risk-averse nature of VR and AR, the National Institute of Health Research has awarded $ 4 million for the development of VR treatments for use in the NHS. Funded projects include a VR therapy package for psychosis patients and a package for youth with social anxiety. Meanwhile the patients Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire are offered VR treatments and therapy for fear of heights, which gives positive results.

In addition to these funded projects, a range of projects using augmented reality and virtual reality are currently underway, including remote face-to-face consultations and simulated procedures so that physicians can experience the point patients’ views. For example, VR can allow trainee doctors to access and visualize areas inside the human body that would otherwise be inaccessible. Quite simply, healthcare professionals can now visualize all parts of the body in minutes, while using 360 CGI reconstructions to create training scenarios that mimic common surgical procedures.

Some healthcare providers film the actual surgery and combine it with CGIs of the operated anatomy to provide an immersive and interactive training experience.

While some of these concepts and uses may seem implausible, as it is still very early in the AR and VR life cycle, it is unclear what will work and what will fail. And that is why it is essential for the industry to test success test solutions and ensure that there is no risk to patients.

Likewise, its vital health personnel are adequately trained to use these new technologies. The learning and development departments must therefore take into account the deployment of the concepts as well as the delivery mechanisms to ensure that they are able to capitalize on the impact of VR and AR.

The bottom line is that augmented reality and virtual reality can play an important role in health care as it seeks to reduce risk and modernize its learning and training methods. However, healthcare providers must understand the technological capabilities without mentioning how to analyze the data that accompanies them, which means identifying partners who can help them in their journey towards adoption.

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