Researchers Turn to Virtual Reality To Support Preventive Care Efforts

June 30, 2015 in News

Virtual reality platforms could help bolster preventive care efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Such technology allows users to experience and process various scenarios in the same way they would a real-life experience.

Virtual Reality, Health Care Efforts

According to the Journal, collaborations among health care researchers and virtual-reality simulation developers are starting to test ways in which the technology can support public health efforts.

For example, a project at the University of Georgia uses virtual reality to show individuals the potential effects of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages.

Grace Ahn — an assistant professor in advertising and leader of University of Georgia’s virtual-reality research initiatives –said, “We’ve found virtual reality to be much more effective than pamphlets or videos at getting the message across and prompting behavior change.”

According to the Journal, research has shown that virtual reality encourages people to make behavior changes by letting them experience the future. As such, Ahn said the technology fits with the goals of preventive care.

Other initiatives include:

  • A virtual reality cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, course at Miami Children’s Health System; and
  • Delivering pre-surgical instructions to patients.

Cost Concerns

According to the Journal, adopting virtual reality in health care settings can cost hospitals and health systems hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As such, providers so far have largely focused on using the technology in ways to cut costs or boost revenue, such as by supplementing staff training with the software (Westervelt, Wall Street Journal, 6/28).

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