Using Virtual Reality in Healthcare Training



In an earlier blog post, we examined the different possibilities of using varied digital learning solutions in healthcare training. This blog post will specifically focus on how virtual reality can be used to design training solutions for the healthcare sector. Hospitals, medical, and nursing training colleges are three primary categories or areas in which virtual reality-based training solutions can play a major role in helping learners improve their relevant professional skills.


Virtual Reality – A Quick Introduction

In this blog post, we described the use of mixed-reality based solutions for workplace training, we offered a quick overview of virtual learning, its origins, and how it differs from augmented reality.

Virtual reality in its simplest form can be defined as a simulated environment created with computer technology. Virtual reality offers an immersive audio-visual experience that is dependent on a headset that allows the user to explore the simulated environment. This article by Joe Bardi published on the Marxent Labs website offers more insights on virtual reality.


Virtual Reality in Employee Learning

The use of virtual reality in employee learning is still not mainstream or widely prevalent owing to the costs and technical knowhow involved in creating such learning solutions. Still, it is used in some industries like heavy engineering and manufacturing, automobile engineering, commercial and passenger airline pilot training, defense personnel training, etc., owing to its immense benefits for specific types of training.


Virtual Reality in Healthcare Training

The healthcare industry is much more than the hospitals offering medical care. Pharmaceuticals and vaccine manufacturers, nurses, therapists, allied healthcare workers, medical representatives, pharmacists, ambulance drivers, sanitation workers, front-office staff; all these people fall into the larger category of healthcare workers.


Use-Cases for the Deployment of Virtual Reality Solutions for Healthcare Training

The primary areas or use-cases for deploying virtual reality-based learning solutions to train healthcare workers are listed below.


Simulation of Surgeries and Medical Education

When medical students are trained, using simulations of different surgical cases or scenarios can be helpful for the doctors in training to understand the complexities of the human body and perform the surgery properly. Students are provided VR headsets and made to experience presentations and interactive videos that demonstrate how surgeries are performed on different organs of the human body.


Physiotherapy Training

Physiotherapists are a key part of the healing process for people recovering from accidents or sports injuries. A combination of exercises and proper diet helps people recover their strength and under the guidance of the physiotherapists the patients are able to regain their strength and move without fear or pain. Virtual reality solutions can be designed that help both the physiotherapists and the patients undergoing treatment to do their strength training and flexibility exercises properly.


Palliative Care Training

This is one of the most unique categories in healthcare. One knows that the patient has only a few days or weeks to live and the medical staff do their best to make the final journey peaceful and as painless as possible. Virtual reality videos have been used to train students in palliative care and oncology medical training. Students were given VR headsets and made to experience a pre-recorded video that simulated the symptoms of nausea and vomiting which is common in palliative care training. Read this article to learn more about how this project was conceived and executed.


Laboratory Workers Training

Pathological laboratories and scanning centers are an important element of the healthcare system. From analyzing blood samples to scanning the human body for abnormalities and injuries, their role in the healing of patients is often forgotten. Trained radiologists and pathologists are always in high demand in the competitive healthcare sector. Virtual reality-based learning solutions can be deployed to help trainees understand their job role better and handle the lab-equipment properly and perform the requisite tests without making mistakes.


Emergency Cases – Simulated Scenarios and Crisis Management

Emergency cases usually a result of road accidents, or natural calamities, or wanton acts of terror can be especially traumatic. The time-window to get the injured admitted and stabilized can be very short and in such scenarios, the aim of the healthcare institution should be to stabilize the injured patient and proceed with surgery swiftly. Good training and swift actions can make the difference between life and death. Training healthcare staff to handle emergency cases using simulations is an excellent way to prepare them from real-life emergency scenarios.


Employee Onboarding and Front-Office Personnel Training

Employee onboarding does not have to be a boring presentation with a group of HR leaders speaking in a monotonous tone and explaining new employees their roles and responsibilities. It can be a fun-filled interactive VR-based learning experience that offers the employees a virtual tour of the workplace and incorporates elements of gamification that explain each employee what they need to do, who to contact for queries, and basic rules and regulations. VR can also be used to train front-office personnel to work on patient management, inputting data, managing insurance requests, interacting with family-members, etc. The overall experience of the patient and their family-members from the time of admission to discharge plays a key role in contributing to the popularity and growth of a hospital. VR-based training makes it easier for healthcare institutions to train their medical and non-medical staff with ease.


Read this article to learn how Australian hospitals are leveraging the power of VR to train their employees.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Virtual Reality for Healthcare Training


The key advantages are:

  • Mimicking real-life scenarios and placing learners in real-life environments provide accurate simulations.

  • Better retention of learning and higher learner engagement.

  • Improved effectiveness in working and faster in-patient care.


The key disadvantages are:

  • Heavy initial investment to design and deploy VR-based learning solutions.

  • Requirement of special equipment and technology to use it properly.

  • Older teaching staff and healthcare workers may not be comfortable using VR.

  • Making changes to the VR-based learning content can be time-consuming and costly.

The Road Ahead

It is safe to say that we are still scratching the surface of using virtual reality for creating healthcare training solutions. Other than some of the premier healthcare institutions and medical schools, the vast majority of healthcare providers are still hesitant to use VR for their training purposes on the grounds of high costs involved.


At S4Carlisle, we are looking to change this perception that all VR-based learning solutions are obscenely expensive! We work with cutting-edge technologies and the best elements of instructional design and training pedagogies to create functional, useful, and engaging VR-based learning solutions. With a special focus on the healthcare sector, we are happy to collaborate with you to design and deploy VR-based learning solutions, which your teams would love. Write to us at sales@s4carlisle.com to learn more on how we can work together to create better learning and healing experiences.

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