Virtual Reality At eHealth Week on Malta

I recently returned from Malta, in the Mediterranean, where I attended eHealth Week (see I’m going to Malta as a HIMSS Europe eHealth Week Social Media Ambassador!). It was lots of fun. I learned a lot. And I especially liked meeting the other eHealth Week social media ambassadors. The highlight of my trip was my visit to the Oculus booth. There I experienced, for the first time, virtual reality! It was awesome. The implications for medical training and for helping patients deal with fear, stress, and pain are tremendous.

Let me start of with the most obvious observation. Virtual reality feels real! So much so, that when an angry T-Rex chased me down, and roared at me so hard I could see (and imagined I felt) its spray of spittle (ewwww!), I was really, really frightened. Just imagine how virtual reality could be used to treat phobias. I couldn’t help but video @tbaupuig‘s reaction to what I’d just experienced. (I think I must have jumped back from that marauding monster twice as far as Teresa!)

Coincidently, I’d already read about one of the virtual reality projects presented at eHealth Week.

So I was delighted to see Devi Kolli (@kolli_devi), of @AiSolve, and Kumar Jacob, of Mindwave Ventures (@mindave_), present during the eHealth Week session Using Virtual Reality to train Clinicians of the Future. From the session description: “The applications of virtual reality (VR) are much more than simply playing a game in a more immersive way these days – and are having truly life-changing effects within the healthcare industry – not only for patients, but for healthcare professionals and organizations too.”

Here are their slides:

If you know anything about me, I’m all about the workflow. So I especially appreciated this slide, from Devi Kolli’s presentation, about VR game workflow in the service of clinical training.

During the discussion and question period, the following points were made:

  • VR experience is less expensive than real world experience
  • VR does not necessarily change tried-and-true approaches to medical training
  • VR training can be integrated into traditional training so as to augment that training
  • VR is great for visual learners
  • VR induced motion sickness is a thing of the past, due to modern headsets and content curation (by Oculus, for example).

The most interesting question from the audience was, “How long until the EHR is built into the VR experience?”

Answers from the stage: “Not long!” (plus ideas for using VR to train users on EHRs, perform usability research, and visualize patient physiologic signs).

In summary, we are at the pilot stage of using virtual reality in clinical settings. As VR tech becomes less expensive and more widespread we’ll see that people do with it! In fact, if you look at using VR gaming techniques for training, healthcare is probably the most obvious place to leverage virtual-reality-based training.

I’ll close this post with an interesting twist on an old saying in medical training.

  1. See one!
  2. Do one!
  3. Teach one!

Will become:

  1. See one!
  2. Experience one!
  3. Do one!
  4. Teach one!

That Experience one! is THE 4TH STEP in Kumar Jacob’s (Mindwave) excellent presentation.

I’m so excited about virtual reality, I bought a VR headset and several 360 VR cameras. As a sometimes programmer, I’m already poking as various VR SDKs (Software Development Kits) and wondering what I can accomplish. Follow me on Twitter at @wareFLO to see what I conjure up! Certainly, “conjure” is the right word, the immersive impact of the “reality” that VR can create is, well, magical!

P.S. Here is a collection of great tweets about, or related to, virtual reality at eHealth Week on Malta.

The above 360 photo of the eHealth Week exhibit hall was taken by @stefanbuttigieg.

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