Healthcare has long been considered a civil right, and social pundits say, healthcare at every level needs to be accessible, irrespective of a person’s demography/geography. But, away from what is considered or supposed to be morally right, the reports from World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that there is a significant discrepancy in the way healthcare is being consumed across the world. The ones with more resources and lesser need get more access to quality health care than the ones in real need, but with fewer resources.
With technology aiding breakthrough revolutions for every industry, a smarter investment on technology for healthcare is turning out to be the need of the hour. Connecting patients and healthcare providers with specialists/ tertiary care centres through Information & Communication Technology (ICT) is not a luxury anymore. But a dire necessity.
While telemedicine & telehealthcare help remotely monitor and manage patients with acute or chronic illness; Virtual Reality (VR) on the other hand is taking us to a whole new world of exploration and simulated reality. VR for gaming has been in the picture for a while now, but getting VR gaming for healthcare segment can be revolutionary. Apart from focusing at the grass root level, VR is capable of solving long-standing issues in healthcare.
VR gaming for rehabilitating patients is developed by MindMazeto in Europe, which allows patients to take up virtual exercises, and interactive gaming module which will enable them to regain the motor & cognitive skills faster than conventional therapies.
Companies like Surgical Theater, Conquer Mobile etc., have built virtual-reality simulations, which capture actual diagnostic images from scans or ultrasounds and create 3D models of a patient’s body structure. This process is proven to help surgeons to safely & efficiently locate tumours and practise the art virtually-really!
Psious is a Spanish-American company using VR for combating psychological problems. For instance, an environment which can cause trouble in the mind of the patient is recreated through VR and the patient is made to traverse that with the help of a seasoned medical practitioner. The idea is to make patients face their fears and gradually let it go organically.
ImmersiveTouch, a surgical VR platform allows surgeons to observe and experience surgeries virtually. The sense of feedback being very close to reality, the surgeons feel it gives a great understanding of tissue and responsiveness to the instruments that will be used in real situations, thereby creating precision.
Shafi Ahmed, a well-known cancer surgeon, is the torchbearer in the areas of augmented & virtual reality for healthcare. In 2014, he performed & streamed a live interactive operation to thousands of students and trainees across a plethora of countries. Through the use of ‘wearable technology’, one could witness how the surgeon removed cancerous tissue from the bowel of a patient.
To make exercising & gymming exciting for couch potatoes, VirZoom offers ‘magic bikes’ loaded with fun VR games.
VR & gaming can transform the whole arena of health education. USC Standard Patient is a freeware Virtual Standardized Patient (VSP) community for medical students & educators. VSPs are virtual human forms which allow for the medical professionals to converse, patients share their stories and ask most common questions as in a real clinical environment.
VirtaMed, a Swiss company which develops high-end simulators for medical training, had a significant influence on the medical education in Switzerland. The simulator became so popular that any doctor who wished to specialise in orthopaedics had to pass an exam on a VirtaMed ArthroS simulator. This kind of standardised practices can help create foolproof & efficient professionals & avoid quackery.
SimNext LLC in association with Breakaway, a gaming company, is working on developing clinical education tools for both students & clinical professionals. VR games to deal with patients in an emergency setting, tricks to manage multiple patients at a time are few of the components that the game involves.
While a futuristic technology, virtual reality with smarter investment & adoption by developing & developed economies can hit the ground running towards a more significant cause. Design & technology, as we know, go hand-in-hand. Intensive research backed by private Investors & government bodies on design & technology for making VR equipment more affordable and less complicated has become a pressing need.