Technology for some time has played a key role in the enhancement of most, if not all, human activity and endeavor. Many sectors of the economy have been blessed by the effects of technology, including the health sector. I believe that virtual reality technology will be a game changer in healthcare delivery. Below are a few areas where the healthcare industry can benefit.
One of the profound merits of technology is that it reduces time and effort while boosting output. Virtual simulation technology has been helpful in the training of healthcare practitioners. For example, surgery simulators have been very effective and efficient in the training of prospective surgeons about the rudiments of their preferred profession, as it would not be impossible and unethical to get real-life patients for the training of surgeons.
The availability of simulation technology has made it possible for surgeons to receiving physical feedback while practicing a procedure. The training of surgeons should naturally involve the use cadavers and some living patients at some point, but the presence of virtual technology has massively reduced, or at least delayed, the need for these.
With the increased use of gaming for training, we have seen simulation applications support virtual reality technology. Virtual reality technology has also been useful in the training of other medical professionals such as nurses, dentists, paramedics, medical consultants, medical educators, and others.
One area that we can always improve upon in the hospital is reminding or retraining the clinicians on the proper posture and method for lifting a patient from their bed. Something as simple as training the clinical team to use right posture or bending their knees can be valuable in the healthcare setting. I see virtual reality as a great tool for this type of organizational training as well.
Virtual reality has also been utilized as a diagnostic tool for diagnosis of various symptoms of illnesses and disorders. This is a more useful method compared to the personal observation method, which has often been tagged as invasive by many patients. Virtual reality procedures such as polygonal modeling, which has been helpful in the study of the eye and to observe progressive eye illnesses such as glaucoma, have been developed to help observe conditions over a period of time.
Robotics — an offshoot of virtual reality – has been widely useful in the treatment and remediation of some illnesses and diseases. Robotic usefulness has moved into the operating room where robotic technology is often deployed under the guidance of a surgeon.
Virtual reality has been useful in the treatment of select social cognitive disorders such as anxiety disorders and phobias. Several software and hardware applications have been designed and developed for the treatment of fears of crowds, heights, small places, driving, etc.
Virtual reality has also proven effective in the remediation of pain in the limbs and joints of the body, brain disorders, and also for the correction of eye defects. Specialized virtual reality headsets have the capability correct the eye defects amblyopia and strabismus.
Additionally, we’re increasingly seeing virtual reality used in treating veterans with PTSD.
Virtual reality technology in healthcare is still in its infancy, but it has already proven to be a novel way forward for qualitative healthcare delivery. Its use has led to medical breakthroughs and key improvements in illness prevention. The future will see continued deployment of virtual reality technology in healthcare delivery worldwide.
The more companies jumping into virtual reality, the more consumers and innovators become aware of its possibilities. I would not be surprised if Oculus Rift, Samsung VR Gear, PlayStation, and Google Cardboard, and others, tap into the healthcare market.
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