By Reenita Das
Partner and Senior Vice President, Global, Healthcare and Life Sciences
Frost & Sullivan

 

Those who have tried on a virtual reality headset can tell you that the experience is lifelike, almost real. If the projection is of you standing atop a tall building’s edge, you will be afraid of falling – the experience is real enough to fool your brain! Gaming is a natural application of the technology, but what is the application in healthcare and what can it do enhance the patient experience?

The video demonstrates how virtual reality (VR) can improve patients’ lives and aid in recovery, and rehabilitation. Samsung is a notable player in this market that has been perfecting this technology for the past decade.

Today there are several patient-centric applications that have been tested to deliver results leading us to believe that VR could disrupt several industries. For instance, it is emerging to be an excellent substitute for both opioids and even marijuana for pain management. On the top of everything, we have predicted the market for virtual reality and augmented reality for healthcare applications to grow to $5.1 billion by 2025, with about 3.4 million patients availing the technology.

Areas of Application

Medical education, surgery, rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry, and psychology could all benefit from this emerging technology. VR technology has been shown to provide meaningful improvements in five key areas:

Prevention: promoting wellness, stress management, and addiction behavior;
Improved pain management: distraction experiences as alternatives to pain-killers;
Improved training: includes clinical skills training and surgical skill training;
Improved adherence: the heightened sense of experience and game-like features of VR training help motivate patients and engage them more fully in the treatment process; and
Telemedicine: cellphone-based or standalone VR systems can be used to extend the reach of the clinician, provide healthcare access to underserved populations, support managed home recovery, enhance chronic disease management and protocol adherence, and facilitate for aging in place.

Reenita Das is a Health Partner and Senior Vice President, Frost & Sullivan. She is the first woman Partner at Frost & Sullivan and the founder of GLOW (Growth and Innovation of Women), a non-profit organization that helps to balance gender equity in the workplace, especially at senior level positions. She is also a Board member of High Tech High Heels, Silicon Valley, a non-profit organization that is focused on helping women excel in STEM.

Das, who has lived and worked in over seven countries, is an industry expert with over 25 years of healthcare marketing and consulting experience, which includes engaging with everyone from start-ups to global clients, to developing and implementing growth strategies.