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VR for Healthcare: How to Build VR Solutions that Save Lives and Educate Better Doctors

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Today’s cutting-edge technologies are helping to revolutionize business processes, save resources, and in general build more efficient operations across a broad variety of industries. Healthcare in particular has benefited from its successful adoption of Virtual Reality technologies.

Table of contents:

Virtual Reality Development in Healthcare: Facts and Figures

VR Adoption in Healthcare

Trends in VR Technology in Healthcare

VR Software Architecture

Types of VR Apps in Healthcare

Technologies for VR App Development

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Healthcare VR App?

VR in Healthcare: Development by HQSoftware

VR has become a vital tool for education and training of both students and current physicians, as well as assisting in treatment of chronic conditions, precise diagnostics, and many other important facets of healthcare.

In this article, we will examine how VR is used in healthcare, what types of VR apps are possible and how they are built, and eventually how to build your own VR healthcare solution to train caregivers and save patients’ lives. 

Virtual Reality Development in Healthcare: Facts and Figures

Healthcare is one of the main industries that will continue to adopt VR widely. 

According to a report by Goldman Sachs, the healthcare VR market will reach $5.1 billion by 2025, with North America and Europe expected to be the top regions to adopt VR in the healthcare industry.

Healthcare providers and patients agree that VR is a must for the healthcare industry: 82% of healthcare professionals say VR is an efficient tool for education, and 62% of patients are ready to try VR as an alternative to routine care.

VR in healthcare: facts and figures
VR in healthcare: facts and figures

Now let’s see how exactly the healthcare industry adopts VR.

VR Adoption in Healthcare

Although VR is still commonly thought of as an entertainment technology, it has become widely accepted in the healthcare industry. 

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As you can see from the aforementioned statistics, VR applications in healthcare can serve as efficient tools for both patients and caregivers. Here are some ways VR apps are used in healthcare:

Healthcare VR education

VR solutions have been used for some time in healthcare education. Students in all medical fields take advantage of VR technology, using 360-degree video and immersive 3D content to learn new information.

With VR solutions for healthcare, developers create complete learning programs for students and practicing physicians. Using such solutions, students learn new skills and obtain knowledge without risking a patient’s health.

For example, Random42 offers a virtual ride into a human body — floating between blood cells, examining how the neural system works, and so on.

Education in healthcare VR
Education in healthcare VR

Virtual diagnostics

The field of healthcare diagnostics also benefits greatly from Virtual Reality. For example, it is successfully used in neuroscience.

NeuroDotVR is a small, portable device that measures brain activity in response to visual stimulation coming to the patient through a healthcare VR device.

With just a smartphone, a VR headset, and a NeuroDot device, a therapist can measure neuroelectric data to help diagnose glaucoma, amblyopia, and the eye’s ability to adapt to darkness.

Diagnostics with healthcare VR
Diagnostics with healthcare VR

Mental illness treatment in VR

Exposure therapy is one of the most efficient methods for treating certain mental disorders. VR for mental health can enhance exposure therapy and provide therapists with a flexible and low-risk tool.

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With VR, patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can receive exposure to the traumatic event virtually. The therapists control what patients experience in the Virtual Reality environment and can alter or stop the process at any time if the patient is uncomfortable.

There is even a term for this: Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, or VRET.

In addition, VR is a useful tool in treating stress and traumas, phobias, eating disorders, and more. See Psious for reference.

Healhtcare VR for mental illness treatment
Healhtcare VR for mental illness treatment

VR for pain management

Patients with chronic pain may suffer their whole lives. For a long time, physicians have treated various types of pain by using distraction methods. Now there is Virtual Reality in medicine to revolutionize pain management.

VR apps in healthcare provide a new distraction method — interactive games. The patient is distracted from their pain in a virtual safe space with lots of interactive features. VR is also a solution for those who cannot use drugs for pain management.

BehaVR is one of the companies that focuses on pain management via VR experiences. Their application Balance has proved its effectiveness against chronic pain.

Pain management via VR distraction methods
Pain management via VR distraction methods

Fitness and therapy

Sometimes fitness programs are a choice; sometimes they’re a necessity. Either way, healthcare VR changes how patients approach getting physical exercise. VR can make getting daily exercise a game rather than an exhausting and dull task.

The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise studies the effect of Virtual Reality–assisted exercise on the human body. One of the examined healthcare VR apps was ThunderGod; in this simulator, the patient has to regularly extend arms, forcefully hit, catch, and throw objects at virtual opponents.

The game was tested by measuring the metabolic rate of oxygen consumption. Energy expended was 3.41 to 4.22 calories per minute for a patient weighing 60 kg.

Fitness and exercise with healthcare VR
Fitness and exercise with healthcare VR

VR for surgery

Virtual Reality is not new in the surgical field; it has been used successfully for some time.

For example, Osso VR is a Virtual Reality surgical training and assessment platform. It helps future surgeons learn and train on virtual patients, increasing their confidence in dealing with real patients and shortening the learning curve.

The solution also helps educate surgeons in places that have fewer resources, contributing to solving the global issue of a shortage of surgeons.

Surgery via healthcare VR
Surgery via healthcare VR

Despite what is already a fairly diverse use of Virtual Reality in healthcare, the technology still has a lot more to offer to medicine in the near future. What’s coming next? Let’s explore some trends.

Andrei Kazakevich

Head of Production

Oversees all production processes and manages the Quality Assurance department. Develops the company’s IoT, AR, VR, AI, and ML expertise.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Virtual Reality in healthcare?

How can VR be used in healthcare?

What are the benefits of VR?

How does VR for medical education work?

How to develop a healthcare VR application?

Read also

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality: Getting to Know Them

Using VR for Training: A Full Guide for 2022

How to Build Virtual Classroom Software: Tools and Technologies

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