Like most industries, the origin and adaptation of new technologies in healthcare is slow. 360 and Virtual Reality (VR) video is no different. It has the potential to transform the health sector but likely will be a result of inspiration of consumer and other non-healthcare industry applications.
Though we are still in the early days of 360/VR video, the market is maturing steadily even with limitations in both mainstream technology and market acceptance. However, there are numerous pioneers adapting these technologies in the healthcare space already. For example, surgeons are performing surgeries which they live stream in 360 to students, wearing VR headsets like the Oculus, around the globe. This allows the students to experience the environment and procedure first hand. 360 video and VR have unlimited potential for training, especially in the medical field where familiarity of a given environment is essential to learning.
And it’s not just medical professionals making use of this technology. As part of their multichannel communications strategy, charities like the British Heart Foundation are leveraging the knowledge of their audience to create content that educates patients. This is a great example of a 360 video they produced to demonstrate a live angiogram and stent insertion to help patients better understand the procedure and alleviate fears.
At an even more advanced level, the application of VR in healthcare will transform the patient experience. One of the biggest trends currently taking place in healthcare is the use of VR to reduce patient anxiety before a procedure. Surprisingly, it can even improve the effectiveness of a treatment. For example, research presented at the 2018 Euroanaesthesia congress in Copenhagen showed that virtual reality (VR) sessions for women prior to sedation for IVF treatment reduced their anxiety level and could also have a direct impact on improving the successful pregnancy rate.1
Similarly, tech giants like Intel are getting involved in helping medical professionals to communicate more effectively with patients by using Immersive 3D simulations to help both parties prepare for complex operations. The example below is currently being used by doctors to provide a VR tour of the brain that ultimately eases the fears of patients and family members about surgery. This is a trend being adapted by more and more hospitals.