The first key decision of any Hospital, organization or Private Center when considering the use of Virtual Reality (or VR) for the training of healthcare personnel should be the choice of the appropriate application for a project of this type.

While this is true for all training activities, it is especially true when it comes to a new technology and learning methodology that people are less familiar with, and for which it is necessary to demonstrate ROI in a first project.

By choosing the right way to implement RV, you will increase the chances of successful training and thus demonstrate real impact and value for employees, managers and the company.

Use the indicative list below to identify a good healthcare training opportunity with VR. 

It is safe to assume that not all elements will match any particular opportunity, but we should always aim to have at least 2 on our list:

To help you identify potential favorable opportunities for the use of Virtual Reality in healthcare training, we have gathered key information about the experiences in applying Virtual Reality to training and the years we have been developing and implementing our virtual reality training lesson creation platform. 

For each application, I include the main advantages of using VR for this type of challenge, some key points to keep in mind if you want to do it well, and some implementation notes that will help you achieve success.

Main advantages of using VR in Healthcare

Case 1: Measurement and Diagnosis

Why Virtual Reality?

Obviously, the correct diagnosis is the starting point for all good medical treatment. You want your medical and nursing staff to collect all the data they need from the various sources, record it, and use it to get the most likely diagnosis. However, it is not always easy to simulate and train people to do it correctly.

Virtual Reality allows you to create a scenario very close to the actual procedure and to develop the ability of staff to perform the measurement correctly, interview patients, and identify key information in such situations.

It is much more effective than using 2D images, slides or video. It trains them to discover and follow the process in a real environment. At the same time, it’s easier to do than live simulations with actors.

As with many other health applications, the introduction of Virtual Human avatars into the scenario is the key to creating realistic measurement and diagnostic sessions.

Combine various data sources as appropriate, e.g. vital signs, description of patient’s audio symptoms, use of scanning equipment, etc.

Be sure to track participants’ success, provide timely feedback, show (rather than “explain”) consequences, and analyze users’ behavior and achievements to obtain important information.

Plan the construction of scenarios so that different cases can be used, e.g. patients of different ages, different symptoms, change of vital signs, etc.

Try to find a balance between following a realistic and complete procedure, and focus mainly on key measurement and diagnostic skills, especially those that can be shown in Virtual Reality.

Use Case 2: Operation of Medical Equipment

Why Virtual Reality?

Although this case of use may also be relevant for other operational trainings outside the health field, it is especially useful for operating and practicing the use of medical equipment.

Virtual Reality allows you to create a scenario very close to the actual procedure and develop the capacity of staff to perform the measurement correctly, interview patients and identify key information in such situations.

It can save you the costs of using real equipment and allows drilling personnel in unique situations (such as rare diseases, equipment malfunction).

It can also show how the operation of the equipment is part of the overall workflow: interviewing a patient (virtual), using safety measures, following the treatment protocol, using the equipment, etc. In such a case, you are training for the use of the equipment in the context of performance, and not just as a technical task.

Focus on choosing the right equipment for the task, using it in the right order, and applying it to the purpose for which it was designed.

To add realism, audio can be useful in a computer environment, but make sure it’s not too overwhelming to cause discomfort.

Consider when you’d like to let students know they’ve made a mistake and turn them back on. VR is a great opportunity for them to “suffer the consequences” of misuse, for example by simulating misdiagnosis or injury to the patient. This will create a strong emotional impact.

In this particular use case, a good approach may be to plan VR training as part of a broader learning mix, along with classroom training, on-the-job practice and more theoretical reading materials and videos.

Case 3: Working in a medical team

Why Virtual Reality?

Many medical interventions require coordinated work with other team members. It may be a medical emergency response team arriving on the scene, a team of doctors and nurses performing an operation, or simply a job that requires communication and coordination among members.

With VR you can create groups of people connecting from remote locations, as well as add more characters with avatars controlled by a virtual PC. The trainer can also have greater control, tracking and visibility over the actions of team members.

Doing it right

Allowing different modes of control for the trainer is a great advantage. These could be, for example, allowing a trainer to have team members follow a tour guided by the trainer’s guides or, alternatively, allowing them to move freely at the scene.

Team members can also “delve” into the opinions of other characters, making them understand what the action looks like from a different point of view (think of a doctor “seeing” a repetition of how they talked to the virtual patient from the patient’s point of view).

Implementation Notes

Team practice in Virtual Reality is often more complex than single-player missions. I recommend thinking about virtual reality as a team after successfully implementing other VR projects, or as an option, a more advanced level.

Virtual reality for health education is a promising field. It promises to change the way the medical profession learns patient care.

Medical professionals are discovering multiple uses for virtual reality training, and the benefits will impact medical practices.

Practicing medical techniques without endangering people’s lives

Medical professionals seek to improve the health of their patients without endangering them. Medical errors are not only costly, they can also have serious results.

Doctors and nurses have long relied on surgery simulators, starting with corpses and plastic mannequins. Now virtual reality trainings are augmenting those basic simulations with more advanced touch screen technology. Free applications such as Operate Now and Surgery Squad provide medical training and patient education.

Virtual Reality Training Surgery for Medical Care

Virtual reality training gives healthcare providers the practice they need before working with patients. Virtual reality simulations are not only highly effective training methods, they are also cost-effective.

Reducing healthcare training costs

It’s no secret that quality medical care can be expensive. Some of the hidden costs include the training of nurses and doctors who care for patients. They must be aware of new and innovative healthcare solutions.

Virtual reality training is one way to minimize the impact of those costs. It eliminates the need to travel elsewhere. By participating in VR training, health professionals spend less time away from work and their families. In turn, they may experience a better balance between work and private life. In addition, virtual reality allows for repetition of training. Users can re-enter a scenario and practice skills as many times as necessary.

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