Virtual reality offers new opportunities for care and empathy

Virtual reality will be one of the key emerging technologies that can be deployed to help improve and enhance access to health, experts at HIMSS21 Digital said.

In a panel moderated by Michael Crawford, associate dean of strategy, outreach and innovation at Howard University, Brennan Spiegel, director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai Health System and Megan Brydon, a specialist in PACS applications, diagnosed by the image, at IWK Health, discussed the cross-cutting of virtual reality, including the addition of gamification to increase participation.

However, the two members of the group noted that there is fear about adding another layer of technology to an overwhelmed healthcare staff.

“We’ve been using VR for the past six years, treating more than 6,000 VR patients, and we’re constantly learning how to use VR for patient care,” Spiegel said. “We’ve focused on acute pain and chronic pain management, and science is no longer the barrier. It’s about who will pay for it and who is the doctor responsible for it all.”

Brydon noted the growing success of RVs as a tool to help elicit an emphatic response, particularly by looking at formal and informal (family) caregivers.

“We’ve found that virtual reality has been able to leverage and provide resources to many people who really feel the burden of caring for family members and friends, and the idea that we can build those skills is really valuable,” he said.

Spiegel noted that use cases for virtual reality include therapeutic opportunities for chronic pain, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mental health, especially for those in rural areas who may not have easy access to physical health and trained doctors.

“We can take this therapy to someone’s house and every day they can do a session with the equivalent of a pain psychologist, but with virtual reality headsets,” he said.

Brydon noted that one of the main advantages of virtual reality-based care, whether therapeutic or not, is that it allows you to access it wherever you are, an advantage that is not limited to rural areas.

“If you’re at work or at home, it gives you that access,” he noted. “We’re at a point where people have access to phones and if we can go through those channels, as things get better, they’re faster and smaller, we can do more in that little space and have that virtual reality header or wherever it happens to be, that applies to both patients and providers. “

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