VR’s Healthcare Revolution: Transforming Medical Training

Oculus Blog
Posted by Oculus VR
July 7, 2017

We’ve come a long way since consumer VR went from sci-fi vision to commercial reality. As tech demos morphed into increasingly polished artistic experiences, we tapped our gaming roots to establish VR as a robust platform with the potential to change the world. Today, we want to highlight how the VR for Good team is providing a new, immersive approach to healthcare education.

Recently, we partnered with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to build a VR simulation that places medical students and staff in rare yet high-risk pediatric trauma situations where split-second decisions determine whether a patient lives or dies. Thanks to the immersive power of VR, we can replicate these training scenarios in true-to-life fashion, complete with paramedics rattling off symptoms, nurses and techs urging you to make a decision, and distraught parents praying for their child’s survival.

These visceral, interactive exercises up the stakes compared to traditional educational tools like non-VR simulations and mannequins. Powered by AiSolve and brought to life by the Hollywood VFX magic of BioflightVR, these virtual scenarios based on actual CHLA case studies let doctors and students practice and learn in realistic workplace conditions. Not only does this new innovation stand to significantly reduce the time and cost associated with mannequin-based training, it also better prepares people to respond in the real world.

“BioflightVR was tasked with helping realize a grand vision—what the future of medical training could look like,” notes Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder Rik Shorten. “I can’t think of a better use for our team’s talents then helping doctors and residents learn and train using these dynamic new technologies.”

“This sort of cutting-edge medical training is where VR shines,” agrees AiSolve CEO Devi Kolli. “Working with the project team and CHLA doctors, we harnessed our AI-powered VR simulation tech to closely replicate real-life scenarios in a way simply not possible before. Plus, the AI features let students customize their learning, which strengthens their skills in the long run.”

High-Stakes, Low-Frequency
Pediatric emergencies—though relatively rare—are by their very definition severe, with doctors, nurses, and techs battling the clock and working in a much tighter window. These high-stakes, low-frequency events create an ethical dilemma: How do you properly train medical personnel and provide best-in-class care without putting patients at risk?

“We’ve been testing the validity of VR as a training and assessment tool for medical resuscitations, and the preliminary results are strong,” says CHLA Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician Josh Sherman. “Even physicians with little video game experience caught on quickly and gave us great feedback. We’re also seeing a similar stress response in the VR experiences compared to real-life ER situations. Our trainees know it’s a simulation, but it feels real—and that makes all the difference.”

By recreating real cases in VR, students and doctors can run through simulations on demand, repeating difficult cases until they get the diagnosis and treatment plan just right. When similar traumas eventually roll through the ER’s doors, they’ll be armed with hands-on training that wouldn’t have been possible before.

Meet the team (L – R): Dr. Todd Chang, AiSolve Head of Simulations Tom Dolby, AiSolve Co-Founder & CEO Devi Kolli, Dr. Josh Sherman, and Project CEO Shauna Heller with BioflightVR Co-Founder and Chief Product & Technology Officer Randy Osborn, Art Director Dave Bryant, and Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Rik Shorten.

This is just one example of our investment in the healthcare industry. We’ve partnered with institutions across the globe, providing Rifts and Gear VRs to move the needle on research, simulation, and training. Based on the promising early results from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and others, we’re excited to ramp up continued support in this area to benefit medical professionals and, in turn, the patients they're training for and preparing to treat in the future.

“These gamified experiences translate real-world environments and situations into virtual space, and AI makes the modules responsive to individuals, all of which allows medical professionals to achieve mastery of diagnosis and treatment,” says Oculus alum and project Executive Director Shauna Heller. “This is the power of virtual reality at its strongest—when it’s solving problems, sharing knowledge, and helping medical professionals prepare to save lives.”

We can’t wait to see where VR for Good takes us next.

— The Oculus Team