Building VR Hospital Models to Solve The Healthcare Crisis

Riya Mehta
Nov 7, 2019 · 6 min read

Let’s say one day you woke up with a deadly heart disease, except you weren’t living in Canada or the states, you grew up in Niger. What if I told you that you don’t get access or reap the same benefits we do in this country, that the only difference between you and another patient living in Canada was that she was going to make it out alive and you weren’t because she had access to an unlimited amount of medical resources, and you didn’t.

And that’s just because you grew up in different places.

She gets to be a survivor, go back to living her best life. And you, you get to know that the next time you see your family, friends, cousins, might be the last time. Feels pretty hopeless right?

To us it’s our greatest nightmare, but to so many people around the world, it’s a reality they have to deal with on a daily basis.

The Global Problem

Inefficient healthcare systems is not a new concept, it makes sense why we have them. Climate change, pollution, poverty (I could go on and on), the point is that there are so many people in trouble today because of past problems that just keep building on each other and causing so many people to be sick around the world.

But that’s not the surprising part. What is surprising is that we just don’t do anything about it. I mean sure there are programs in place to give medical care to people like MSF (DWB), the WHO and etc. But in a world where there are more patients than doctors, it’s just not enough. So what is the solution to this problem?

Well, what if we redefine everything we know about doctor-patient communication by using VR? Oh wait, they’re already doing that. If you look at any applications of VR in healthcare, a lot of what comes up is VR training for surgeries, medical procedures, robotic surgery🤯-some really insane stuff.

So if you think about it, using VR to enhance telemedicine (doctor to patient communication online) is really not that far off, it just needs some really smart people to think of good ideas.

What's the Solution?

This is where Virtual Hospitals/Doctors come into the picture.

Recently, I’ve been looking into how we can use VR to create a virtual hospital interface. I know. It probably sounds like some science fiction crap you heard from a TV show or a book, but I promise you it’s not. Alot of what getting to innovation lacks is just good ideas.

But we can break that barrier now. One of the reasons VR is so underdeveloped is because we only look it at the context of gaming, or really basic procedures. That’s not enough. We gotta start thinking bigger and brighter, from 10% bigger —>10x bigger. That’s how we’ll achieve the really good stuff. Alot of patients in developing countries lack things like medical consultation or support networks from hospitals when they get diagnosed with a disease.

VR hospitals can help to change that, so doctors can immerse themselves into a VR world where they can interact with their patients and view them in real time.

Ok, so How Does it Work?

It’s actually really similar to viewing things in a VR world (an entirely different reality), just applying that feature of SLAM for real-time object detection and applying that to the hospital. If a doctor takes a step forward, that translates to the VR hospital.

I’m thinking that instead of having doctors fly halfway across the world to see patients, they can instead have the hospital take a 360-degree image of what it looks like, what their patients look like, & the features and then just put it into the VR interface.

And then a doctor from a hospital on this part of the world can literally see the entire hospital, and the patient, so they can give an accurate diagnosis based on their anatomical structure (3D visualization through VR). Insane right?

VR Modelling for Virtual Hospitals

I built a model of a virtual surgery simulation using the Autodesk & Google Poly VR software to deploy how a vision of the surgical setting would work in the virtual hospital. This is what doctors would see when exploring the interface.

To get better visualization and measurements, a full-body scan is needed to virtually show your presence and communicate your thoughts during the surgical stimulation.

You can also think of this like characters in a video game and how they are able to interact with each other, listen to each other and in other words, how VR is stimulating their senses to make them feel as if they are physically in that hospital.

Having a patient taking an MRI scan? Why not automatically have a 3D analysis directly portrayed into the virtual hospital, so doctors globally can tune in to see the diseases your hospital is trying to solve? This is another demo out of the same software used to simulate a 3D imaging approach to the hospital.

You can see different organs used for 3D visualization purposes in the VR world. We all know 2D imaging is outdated, it’s no longer something we have to rely on for proper diagnosis, it doesn’t give the full view of the patient’s anatomy. A virtual world provides these exact same features, just virtually.

The next best thing to having a patient being physically in front of you is having that patient being virtually in front of you-there shouldn’t be an in between.

The main thing to takeaway from this is that there is no stretch when it comes to technology. If you think about it, all the best applications we use today were once upon a time just an idea. It’s the development, resources and possibility put into it that turned it into a ”vision of the future”🙌.

We can channel the same concept/process for Virtual Hospitals. Virtual reality in medicine is no longer a question of when-it’s a question of how we can cater that innovation to 100% of our population.

Virtual Hospitals can allow us to do that, by giving a chance for a patient 7000 miles away to get an accurate medical diagnosis from a doctor living here.

If you enjoyed the article be sure to give it some claps👏👏 and connect with me on Linkedin! Part 2 coming really soon.

Riya Mehta

Written by

I am a 16 year old student who is passionate about biotechnology and international medicine. Currently an innovator at TKS & working with Sick Kids Hospital!

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