How virtual reality will help change healthcare

Key points

    Virtual reality development

    It's applications

    The future of healthcare

By Carlos Miskinis
Digital twin research expert
Jan 2019

VRs uses and applications

Healthcare has adopted virtual reality and, through its use, healthcare is improving dramatically every day. The impact of virtual reality has not yet been fully realised but, due to an ever increasing market, that changes every single day. Technology and healthcare companies are creating platforms that will transform healthcare for years to come. It is being proven to provide better value proposition than other avenues and healthcare workers are adopting its uses even at an early stage due to the benefits.


From developing surgical training technology to helping patients with mental health, VR has an array of applications in which it can benefit the healthcare industry. The justification behind increased VR use is that it can help patients and/or healthcare professionals remove some of the stress of everyday situations and encourage behaviours that can be beneficial to enable progression, whether that be teaching or rehabilitation.


Uses of virtual reality


VR Health, the Israeli immersive VR company now based in Boston, USA, has become the first in the world to gain ISO certification and have all its medical uses FDA approved. They use Oculus Go and Rift to create their platforms and are currently in use in 30 locations in the USA. Their VR Health applications immerse users in fun and engaging experiences while walking them through specific movements and tasks, for medical and therapeutic purposes, all of which are analysed in real time thus providing useful data analytics for multiple case use. They currently have a wide range of programmes from pain management, helping chemotherapy patients and helping those with mental health conditions.


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There are various virtual reality applications that help with mental health disorders and are fast becoming important in the field of healthcare. Virtually Better uses VR exposure therapy to treat anxiety, depression and phobias. The technology allows clinicians to circumvent any challenges associated. Bravemind is freeing soldiers from PTSD and also victims of sexual assault. The VR Exposure Therapy was developed by the University of Southern California. It allows clinicians to gradually immerse patients into virtual environments representative of their traumatic experiences in a controlled, stepwise fashion. They control the multi-sensory emotional stimuli which patients receive and monitor the intensity of the patients’ stress responses via advanced brain imaging and psychophysiological assessment techniques.


There are also its uses in various health conditions. Firsthand technology treat patients with chronic pain using VR which, when you consider that normal treatment uses highly addictive narcotics, the alternative of VR provides a safer therapeutic output. Their VR platform has been shown to reduce the time thinking about their pain by 48%, whereas patients under drug therapy reduction time in thinking about the pain is only 10%. Applied VR works on pain reduction within hospitals by placing patients in different settings. This can reduce patient pain from surgery or small operations by nearly 40%. Overall both are improved options when you consider the addictive nature of painkiller treatments currently available.

Challenge Advisory is delighted to announce the launch of our digital twin healthcare workshop taking place in London, November 2019.

This workshop is designed to support the growth and adoption of digital twin technology in healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and hospital management.

Created for the industry, Challenge Advisory is presently working with 30 members of their steering committee to build a framework and agenda to build upon the work they have already done, to develop the value of Digital Twins.

Learn more about our digital twins healthcare workshop here.


One of the largest uses for virtual reality lies within medical teaching. Numerous companies are currently simulating surgery and medical anatomy to make education more accessible and prevent patient harm. ImmersiveTouch enables patients scans to be reconstructed into 3D VR so that they can complete practice procedures, such as major surgery or invasive procedures, via enabling of teaching and demonstrations amongst surgeons, preventing any room for error. Medical realities performed the first ever operation using a virtual reality camera at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Everyone could participate in the operation in realtime. Everyone could follow the procedure from start to finish and see how the surgeon removed the cancerous tissue. A new and immersive way of training surgeons, Osso VR, does this in orthopaedic surgery. It allows users to simulate assembling and placing a tibial nail. For STEM based education, Zspace is an inspiring interactive educational platform which allows used to visualise human anatomy amongst many other functions.




With the advancements in health tech changing daily and its therapeutic importance being validated, it will not be long until the “fourth industrial revolution” has provided healthcare with the credentials to enable us to minimise the use of narcotics for patients experiencing pain, addressing phobias and preventing cadaver use in medical training. The future of medical healthcare will ultimately be dependant on new technology as other resources become scarcer, out of date and proven to be unhelpful. Using alternatives to assist both patients and healthcare professionals seems inevitable and we must embrace virtual reality for all of its unique properties.


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