Virtual Reality use in healthcare has seen a meteoric rise over the last few years. It’s probably the area where we’re seeing the most innovative and vital use of the technology. When we last wrote about the topic in 2017, healthcare companies were just starting to deploy VR to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. Now, it seems like any company not using VR in the field is falling behind.
One of the more popular use cases for VR in healthcare is training. The ability to simulate different scenarios, from an immersive first-person perspective, is very compelling. Like with other VR for Training programs, we’re hearing about better retention of information and post-training performance.
Many large healthcare companies have extensive learning & development departments, many of whom have transitioned from tracking VR’s development to putting it into practice. The costs — both literally and figuratively — of not using VR for training are significant. With commercially available powerful VR headsets like Oculus Go at only $200/headset, whole departments can be equipped for immersive learning.
As we re-visit VR for Healthcare, we wanted to share some of the top use cases we’ve seen among clients for training. Let us know if you have any questions on how we can help your healthcare company thrive using InstaVR.
New Doctors/Nurses/Staff Members
If you haven’t read our interview with Erfan Mojaddam of Stanford University School of Medicine, it’s definitely worth a look. His team is using VR for many different purposes, including training new doctors to avoid distractions. Doctor and nurses obviously go through extensive classroom training. They’re then further trained in the field, learning from more seasoned medical professionals. But nothing quite prepares you for seeing patients yourself — VR can help though.
New doctors, nurses, and other staff members can become familiar and comfortable with a variety of situations through VR. The immersive feeling and required focus of being in a VR headset are very important. According to University of Maryland researchers, you can increase your retention of information by nearly 9% using VR over traditional video. What’s not measured though is the value of being realistically immersed in a world — familiarity allows medical professionals to relax more, similar to their more seasoned colleagues.
InstaVR also allows for additional training features for medical professionals — such as decision-making and quizzes. The interactivity of the training keeps the VR user better engaged, and allows you to assess their performance in the VR environment.
Ultimately, virtual reality is a significant step beyond traditional 2D video for new healthcare professional training.
Rare or Dangerous Events
The world of medicine is high-stakes. When a doctor or nurse runs into a rare or dangerous situation, particularly when time is critical, they will have benefited if they’ve experienced the situation before, if even only virtually. The best way to do that is through VR training.
We’ve talked about how simulating rare or dangerous events is hard to do often. So it’s easier to film it once in immersive 360-degree 3D. You can then re-use that valuable training again and again, without having to stage another simulation.
It’s particularly nice how easy it is to distribute these special trainings via mobile standalone headsets and through location-independent options like Oculus Release Channels. You can distribute the VR trainings to the Oculus Go headsets without ever having to physically touch the headsets themselves. This saves valuable time and energ.
You can, for instance, film a simulated response to a mass casualty event at one hospital, but distribute that training to headsets nationally or globally. We saw that with the Texas State Ambulance Bus, where drivers do not often have access to the bus, but have continuous access to VR training. Because of the training, they’re better prepared for the rare instances when it will be needed.
Learn New Equipment
Medical equipment is continually being updated and improved. This is important for healthcare, where professionals are often only as good as the equipment they’re given access to. But how do you train employees on new equipment?
Obviously, in-person training is ideal. But sometimes that can only occur at one time, which limits the training to only people available then — not people that are on shift, on vacation, or haven’t started working there yet. To preserve that key training for everyone, we’re seeing more healthcare tech companies switch to VR training manuals.
This helps give users a first-person, immersive simulation of how to use the new medical equipment. When you think of the astronomical costs associated with equipment itself, it would be ridiculous for a company not to use the most advanced training available — virtual reality.
Again, distribution of the training used to be a major concern. Tethered VR headsets like the Rift and Vive could only be used at one or a couple locations, and required a very specific laptop to run. With advances in mobile VR headset quality and availability, medical equipment suppliers can now distribute to their clients easy-to-use powerful trainings via the Oculus Go or Oculus Quest headsets.
And for medical training requiring very high-end VR equipment, the Varjo has been getting rave reviews. For healthcare professionals looking to take a major leap forward in immersive training, VR equipment like the Varjo now makes that feasible.
Bonus: Sales Professionals
One quick last use case that’s a bit outside the box: training of medical sales professionals. This is a growing field that has reasonably high turnover, where knowledge transfer is essential. An unprepared sales professional stands to lose their company hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
So we’re seeing medical companies transition to VR training for new and experienced medical sales professionals. This allows for first-person perspective trainings — ie simulated sales meetings.
We’re also seeing the sales professionals themselves showing up at meetings with VR headsets. It’s the next generation approach to showcasing medical equipment — 360 walkarounds of the equipment, promotional VR videos, etc. Even a VR headset with 64 GB of memory can show an immense amount of information, in a memorable and positive way. The VR headset makes travel and actual sales meetings so much easier!