VR is a thing. VR is a big thing and is expected to become even more significant. It makes its way to the healthcare industry convincing more and more people that this technology can be useful and should be used. But do you know what it takes to introduce a successful VR healthcare application? If not, we will tell you how to make the app work with our step-by-step guide.
1. Establish the goal
Know what you need. From the very beginning, you need to answer the crucial question of why to use VR in healthcare. As VR is a flexible tool, it can be adjusted to fit almost any goal and meet many needs. To succeed with the application, you should be fully aware of which problems you want to solve with its help.
There are numerous ways to use VR technology in healthcare. However, it is possible to divide them into two main approaches: for doctors and for patients. Doctors can use it as a part of training, simulating stress situations or sharing experience with young doctors. VR can be extremely helpful in diagnostics. For example, there is a concept which describes how CT/MR scans can be studied in a 3D form with a VR application.
Patients also benefit from implementing VR in medicine. A recent study shows that VR experience can be very helpful in treating phobias. Other applications include treating mental disorders, phantom pains, stroke rehabilitation. Relaxing sessions are useful to preserve mental wealth and reduce stress.
2. Create a concept
At this point, you have a brilliant idea how VR can make your hospital better. The next step is to create a concept out of this idea. That means that you have to be able to describe all the elements included in the application.
To represent the concept visually, you can use a Value Proposition Canvas. It is a method that allows to understand and point out what the customer expects from the product and ways it can meet these expectations.
To build a concept, you can follow the checklist:
- what is the main idea?
- who will use it?
- does it include one participant or many?
- do participants have any disabilities?
- where will the sessions take part?
- what will the participants see? Think of the setting, characters included.
- what will they hear? Is there the score, background music, dialogs or monologues?
- will they interact with the elements? If yes, how?
- what body parts are involved in the experience: only eyes, hands, body motion?
- how long should the experience be?
- what references can you find to support your idea?
After answering these questions, you will be able to clearly depict your future project. The concept is a great thing to share an idea, to get your message across and convince the sponsors or investors it is worth trying. So it should be done with all due care and represented in a corresponding document that will be used as a basis for the developers.
3. Find a team
It is better to say find THE team. It shouldn’t be the first company that claims to make your project real. Make sure the people you hire are on the same page with you. Otherwise, you may find it very difficult to share your view of the applications. Look through companies portfolios, read case studies, explore and you will find the developers that meet your expectations.
However, bear in mind that some of your ideas regarding the project may be difficult to implement technically. You may not be as proficient in VR development as the team, so listen to their advice. This leads to a necessity to find mutual understanding and compromise between you and the developers.
Quality comes at a price. Of course, you would like to spend less, but you definitely don’t want to ruin the project using the cheapest solution. Choose a company which reviews satisfy you, compare the offers and make your decision.
4. Choose proper hardware
It depends. The choice of the hardware you should use depends on many things. And the selection is very wide. Today’s VR market offers various headsets, so you can find something to fit your needs exactly. Together with the headset, it is necessary to equip the user with controllers, a computer or a smartphone to start the experience. To make the right decision we suggest to look at the following:
- how many people are involved;
- where the session takes place: on-site or at home;
- if it should be mobile or immovable;
- if the experience requires controllers;
- how much you are ready to pay for the hardware and supporting devices.
If you provide the answers to these questions to the development team, they will assist you in choosing a VR headset and supporting devices.
5. Think of the environment
VR hardware can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, especially if people use it for the first time. It is necessary to think about how to organize the best way the place where sessions happen. First, till this moment you must have already decided whether the participants will use VR in the hospital or at home.
If VR is supposed to be a home solution, there should be a proper headset, which can be moved and transported easily. The instructions given to the user must be clear and straightforward to make an immersive experience pleasant and helpful.
When organizing a VR experience in the hospital, it is important to dedicate a room for VR only. This will allow you to organize storage of the headsets and computers you use safely and conveniently. Moreover, some VR experiences imply walking and moving around, so a separate room is essential. And even if the user doesn’t walk, you should provide them with a comfortable chair, so nothing distracts a person from the virtual world.
If a VR application is expected to be used by patients, make sure they are capable of it. The headset shouldn’t bother or irritate, the station must be mobile to be moved from one ward to another, etc. There are already solutions which are designed for hearing impaired people, for the visually impaired, bed patients. Think about how your application can make patients feel comfortable and enjoy the experience.
Additionally, when you implement the application, it’s most likely you will need to train an employee to assist the users, take care of the equipment and gather the data you need. By the way, about the data.
6. Organize post-analysis
To create and launch an application is not enough. Gathering the data for further analysis is essential. For the developers, it is important to know how well the application runs, if there are any glitches or issues that need to be fixed, how it can be improved and many other technical details.
For you, it is necessary to track the application efficiency and productivity: if it works as you expected, if it meets the goal you set. If it is a training program, you can measure employees progress and compare with a traditional approach. With a treatment solution, you can record patients’ reaction to the treatment, how well they respond to it; if patients are willing to try such an innovative method.
With all the data you have from both the users and developers, you are able to analyze the project and decide whether it is successful and should you be thinking of launching another one.
VR may seem too difficult to try, but there is nothing overcomplicated with this technology. Follow this step-by-step guide and you will successfully introduce your custom solution to the patients and doctors.