How Virtual Reality will Transform Healthcare

Healthcare and health tech are seeing a lot of disruption of late. With consumers’ renewed focus on their well-being, the maturity of technologies like 5G, and regulatory assistance, this could be the start of a new wave in medicine. 

One technology that has been touted as a game-changer is virtual reality. It can potentially revolutionize how medical professionals train, diagnose, and treat patients. Here are some ways we think VR is transforming healthcare. 

Providing effective medical training 

One of the restrictions for training is that you often need a physical body to work on, which brings with it risks and inconveniences. Here’s where VR can be a game-changer. Providing students with a safe and controlled environment in which to learn, allows experienced doctors and surgeons to refine their skills and even experiment with high-risk, high-reward techniques without putting real patients at risk.  

As Jack Pottle, Chief Medical Officer, of Oxford Medical Simulation, says, “VR offers benefits for learners and educators, delivering cost-effective, repeatable, standardized clinical training on demand.” Combined with haptic feedback and digital twin simulation, VR has the potential to upend medical education.  

Here is an example:  

Fundamental Surgery, a company that builds VR medical training solutions, uses a haptic glove combined with VR. You don’t need to be an MBBS to appreciate this!

Helping patients with rehabilitation 

VR can be used to help patients with physical and mental disabilities to rehabilitate. For instance, it can be used to simulate real-life situations for patients with phobias, anxiety, and PTSD. It can also help patients recover from physical injuries by simulating movement and providing feedback on performance. 

Here is an example: 

XRHealth helps patients with remote physiotherapy. Recovery never looked more fun! 


Improving pain management 

If you’ve ever undergone a long dental procedure, you’ll know that just thinking about something else makes you tune out the drilling and pain. That’s the power of distraction, and while it might seem frivolous, it can effectively help in uncomfortable treatments. VR can distract patients (especially young ones) from pain during injections or surgeries. An immersive, engaging experience can reduce their anxiety and discomfort during treatment. 

Here is an example: 

Applied VR helps opioid patients treat chronic pain by “hijacking” patients’ brains, effectively reducing pain perception.  


Realizing the promise of telemedicine 

Removing the physical need to meet is a massive unlock for healthcare, as many experienced during the pandemic. VR has a huge role to play here, allowing doctors to connect with patients remotely. While this can happen with video calls right now, VR will allow for a much higher volume of remote interactions if other technologies like haptic feedback evolve in parallel. Such technology would especially benefit those in rural areas or those with mobility issues. 

Providing better diagnosis and treatment:  

Finally, VR can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. For example, it can be used to simulate the effects of medication on the body or to create virtual models of organs to aid in diagnosis and treatment planning. Such technology will help doctors provide more customized solutions for their patients. 

These are just a few of how VR can transform healthcare. As technologies evolve, and more medical practitioners experiment with the technology, we will surely see new, interesting solutions that will benefit the medical community and of course, patients. 

We will be writing more about the potential applications of VR for several other industries – keep an eye on 

The first in our new series exploring the wide-ranging potential of virtual reality.  

Researched by Deivanai Durairaj, Senior Product Manager AR | VR, Brahmarsive. 

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