VR's Impact on Healthcare Education

Will Saffel
Demand Generation

Healthcare is one of the biggest adopters of VR training. Let's talk about why that is.

As Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 video technologies mature, they transform how medical professionals train, consult, and interact with patients. This blog explores some of the key applications of 360 video in healthcare, highlighting its potential to enhance education and patient care and add to the overall security and quality of healthcare training.

Virtual reality has been a hot topic in the healthcare industry for some time now. You’ve undoubtedly seen videos or images of surgeons performing surgery long-distance or even participated in a VR classroom that teaches students about human anatomy. While these applications likely account for a good percentage of the CAGR of nearly 40%, a considerable growth rate to be sure, other applications of VR in healthcare slip under the radar.

While VR helps to address the problem of highly skilled surgeons not being available in certain regions, it also has the potential to address the general lack of healthcare workers worldwide. Currently, approximately one million registered nurses in the United States are over 50 years old, meaning they will soon retire. This group of 50+ nurses represents about one-third of the total nurses in the country. However, this problem isn’t specific to the United States, with Europe being hit particularly hard.

“We could face a crippling shortage of nearly 1.8 million healthcare workers, and the numbers are climbing,” Kluge told the European Health Forum Gastein in September 2023. “In some countries, there are just 2.4 doctors for every 1000 people. That’s not a gap. It’s a gulf.”

So, where does VR training come into the picture? As you might imagine, VR provides some opportunities to bridge this gap. To be direct, VR training, especially 360 video, increases the speed of training, meaning that new healthcare professionals can be onboarded more rapidly without compromising the quality of their education. With immersive experiences, learners can practice and repeat complex medical procedures and scenarios safely, accelerating their competence and confidence.

According to a recent 2023 survey of 211 healthcare organizations, 34% had implemented VR training, and 43% plan to do so in the near future. The survey cited several key applications of the VR, including training for medical procedures, pre-operative preparation, and soft skills development. At Warp VR, we have a similar experience, with many VR enthusiasts within healthcare sharing the same applications.

Here are some of the most common conversations that we have regarding healthcare training.

Patient Interactions and VR

Going into a doctor's office is never a comfortable experience. That's why the reputation of a doctor, nurse, or even an entire hospital can be greatly affected by the quality of communication and empathy they display. Another study by the National Library of Medicine underscores the critical role of effective communication in healthcare. The research reveals that clear, compassionate interactions are not just essential for accurate diagnosis and treatment but also play a crucial role in creating a positive healthcare environment, reducing patient anxiety, and building trust with healthcare professionals.

In this context, 360 video and VR provide immersive training environments for healthcare professionals to practice and hone their communication skills with virtual patients, enhancing empathy by allowing them to experience patient perspectives. These technologies enable scenario-based learning from routine check-ups to stressful situations, offering consistent, feedback-driven training that focuses on clarity, compassion, and effective communication. This method ensures uniform patient care and communication standards across healthcare institutions.

Training Nurses for Elderly Care with VR

Training nurses for elderly care is an increasingly important focus in healthcare, particularly as populations age and the need for specialized care grows. VR and 360-degree video are particularly well-suited for this training, providing immersive, realistic experiences that prepare nurses for the unique challenges of elderly care.

Through 360-degree video simulations, nurses can practice handling common scenarios in senior care, such as managing chronic illnesses, recognizing signs of dementia, and providing compassionate end-of-life care. These simulations allow nurses to experience complex patient interactions and medical conditions first-hand, enhancing their ability to respond with empathy and expertise.

Moreover, VR training can simulate or replicate the physical environment of nursing homes or home care settings, teaching nurses how to navigate these spaces safely and effectively. This includes learning to use specialized equipment, managing fall risks, and ensuring a safe, comfortable environment for elderly patients.

By incorporating these advanced technologies into training programs, healthcare institutions ensure that their nursing staff are not only technically proficient but also prepared to meet the emotional and psychological needs of elderly patients, fostering a higher standard of care and improving overall patient outcomes.

Standardization and Scalability

360-degree video in healthcare VR training offers a consistent and scalable way to enhance the skills of healthcare professionals. By creating standardized training scenarios, every doctor or nurse, regardless of location or training time, receives the same high-quality instruction. This ensures uniformity in patient care and adherence to best practices across all healthcare settings. Additionally, these videos enable institutions to quickly and efficiently scale their training programs, making advanced learning accessible even in remote or underserved areas.

Moreover, 360-degree video is a cost-effective solution for healthcare training, eliminating the need for expensive equipment and travel. It allows for repeated, accessible training without additional costs, supporting continuous professional development. This approach saves resources and ensures that healthcare professionals are prepared to provide the best possible care to their patients, enhancing the overall effectiveness and responsiveness of the healthcare system.

Healthcare Onboarding and VR

360-degree video significantly streamlines the onboarding process for new healthcare professionals. By immersing new staff in a comprehensive, virtual environment from day one, they can quickly become familiar with the layout of the healthcare facility, understand emergency procedures, and grasp essential operational protocols without the need for physical walkthroughs or repetitive explanations. This method reduces the time and resources typically required for onboarding, allowing new employees to become effective team members faster.

Moreover, this technology facilitates a deeper understanding of the workplace culture and patient interaction norms, fostering a sense of belonging and competence among newcomers. The interactive nature of 360-degree video ensures that each new staff member receives a consistent introduction to the institution's standards, expectations, and methods, enhancing overall job satisfaction and reducing early turnover rates. This approach not only speeds up the integration of new employees but also supports a higher standard of care from the outset.

Healthcare Security

Healthcare generally falls under the domain of government services. That means heavy regulations and necessary certifications. It’s a necessary precaution because there are so many applications of VR in healthcare. Naturally, some of those applications are very sensitive and require robust security.

Conclusion

Healthcare is far from the only industry that has adopted VR and 360 video training, but it is one of the largest. This rapid integration reflects a critical need to overcome challenges such as workforce shortages, the demand for high-quality care, and the necessity for robust security in sensitive environments. The use of VR and 360-degree video not only enhances the training and onboarding of healthcare professionals but also ensures that they are equipped to meet the evolving needs of patients and regulatory standards. As these technologies continue to develop, their role in healthcare will only expand, offering new opportunities to improve outcomes, increase efficiency, and maintain the highest standards of care and security across the industry.

Share this post

Continue reading

For the latest news, announcements and background articles.
Instructional design
3D Modelled vs. 360 Video
Nicholas Prynn
Intern
Trends
A Guide to Immersive Learning
Thijs de Vries
Founder & CEO
Trends
These are our VR training predictions for 2024
Thijs de Vries
Founder & CEO