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How VR Can Be Used in the NHS

 Phil Ashwell - Rescape Innovation
The Continual Development of VR in Healthcare

Looking at DR. VR as one of Rescape Innovation’s key products, we are working to understand the different needs for VR in healthcare so we can support them. We are constantly innovating and adapting to build the correct technology and delivery systems for different applications such as hospices, NHS, and care facilities. Part of that includes building the correct content to support patients. We can learn from clients and customers, what they need and how we can best support them.

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You Have to Try It to Believe It

VR is a common buzzword in current culture; everyone has heard of it and has an idea of what it is.  However, not many have actually tried VR.  Until you have been in VR, it’s hard to understand the sheer power and complete immersion that it offers. It's incredible to watch someone go into a VR experience for the first time and see how they react to perhaps seeing an elephant about to tread on them or a whale shark swim past.  VR offers a unique opportunity to have experiences that might otherwise be impossible or impractical.

VR offers a unique opportunity to have experiences that might otherwise be impossible or impractical.

Rescape recently participated in a UK hospice event where we rolled DR.VR to a wider audience. There was an overwhelmingly positive response from those that took part. From CEOs to clinicians, nurses, and support staff, everyone that went into one of the experiences came out with positive feedback. What we found was that each person that went into it brought something different out of it, sharing their ideas about how VR could help patients.

The NHS has been somewhat sporadic about adopting VR technology. Many of their clinicians are aware of the capabilities of VR, and there are even pockets of people who are using it. There are independent trials, but those clinicians don’t seem to be sharing their experiences with the rest of the NHS. The gap is that there doesn’t seem to be any agreement or unity in the thinking about how VR could be used universally within the NHS.

For Rescape, there is an opportunity to speak to those pioneers that are already trying VR and learn from them.  We need to introduce them to our capabilities and build on those relationships to expand where VR could be used within the NHS.

DR.VR and DR.VR+

One of the greatest assets of DR.VR is that it is a stand-alone system that functions as an out-of-the-box solution. It doesn’t need power, or Wi-Fi, or the internet. It’s mobile and can go anywhere.  People are even more amazed by DR.VR Plus, which includes a 360-degree camera.  The camera can be used to take footage of an event that is then incorporated into the system with a push of a button. This allows the patient to experience events such as holidays or family parties as if they were there in person.

At the moment, we have the six separate standard experiences which all have been well received, especially the underwater experience. We’re continuing to build additional content and are always looking at new scenarios and different types of content that will keep it fresh and interesting for the patients.

VR is an emerging technology and now is the time to get in on the ground floor in order to have input on what is developed from these starting blocks. DR.VR is a fantastic kit as it is, but it will continue to grow and evolve with innovation. This will happen when we partner with those pioneers who believe in VR and are willing to help us in our mission to deliver the best possible product to patients.

VR Can Help at All Levels

The power of VR can help at all levels, not just with patients. It’s also been found to act as a relaxation tool for healthcare staff. Working in the NHS or in any caregiving situation is stressful, and VR is a way to combat that stress. With the way that VR is growing and the new applications it can be applied to, it has something to offer everyone within the NHS.

The statistics that we’re seeing related to DR.VR are an average of 50% reduction in pain levels amongst patients and 51.6% reduction in stress and anxiety.

The statistics that we’re seeing related to DR.VR are an average of 50% reduction in pain levels amongst patients and 51.6% reduction in stress and anxiety. This is a tool that gives patients a non-drug option to self-manage their pain and anxiety, offering them some control over their situations. DR. VR is a way to take the mind away from the reality in front of them by virtually transporting themselves to someplace else.

People need to understand that VR is not just a fad. It is a useful tool that can bring a great deal of relief and benefit to patients in many different situations. At the moment, VR is seen more as a toy than a tool. People need to try it in order to understand its sheer power and how it can be applied as a powerful tool in the healthcare environment.

More information on Virtual Reality and Pain Management

Phil Ashwell

Written by Phil Ashwell

Phil Ashwell is Partnership Manager here at Rescape. He's always been a bit of tech geek, but is not much of a gamer; his era was much more Space Invaders and Mission Control (having a Atari 2600). There is nothing he loves more than introducing people to the DR.VR experiences, especially those who’ve never tried VR before. He is especially pleased to be able to work with DR.VR as he says "it really helps people, really helps them with pain, stress and anxiety, it’s amazing."