Improving Patient Recovery with Applied Virtual Reality

The sensory power of virtual reality (VR) has already captured the imaginations of a number of industries — from media to art to education — but one of the most exciting applications today is in healthcare. Not only is its diverse applications improving the end-to-end patient and provider experience, but also providing innovative digital health solutions to simultaneously enhance quality of care and cost savings. And today, Samsung is at the forefront of cutting-edge research and the deployment of VR to help patients improve pain management.

Just last week, Samsung joined CTIA-The Wireless Foundation at the Federal Communications Commission to showcase our AppliedVR Health solutions — technology that demonstrates the proven benefits of virtual therapy that helps reduce anxiety and improve patient outcomes. In addition to our VR demo, Samsung was proud to tout our partnership with Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, located in Washington’s neighboring suburb of Alexandria, Virginia.

Inova has already begun using AppliedVR kits, which include a Samsung GearVR headset, headphones and a Samsung Galaxy smartphone loaded with AppliedVR’s extensive library of guided meditations and 360-degree tours of exotic locations and immersive games. These are intended to distract patients during and after medical procedures, as well as provide a non-invasive substitute for pain killers.

According to a number of medical studies, VR treatment can reduce pain by about 25 percent and reduce stress and anxiety by 60 percent. And while the health applications of VR have been known for some time, it wasn’t until recently that the technology was scaled for meaningful patient use. As Josh Sackman, President of AppliedVR, put it, “the technology weighed 20 pounds, was tethered to a computer and cost nearly $50,000 for an installation.” But with Samsung’s advanced technology allowing these programs to be loaded onto smartphones, mobility is now bringing the technology to patients with ease and affordability.

Medical professionals have also found VR quite useful with pediatric patients. According to Dr. Everett Embrey, chairman of the emergency department at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, “Children tend to be concerned about whether they’ll get stuck with a needle or whatever might happen to them, and even something like putting an IV in or cleaning a wound can make them more anxious than adults. Using the VR equipment really helps relieve their stress and anxiety.”

Overall, using VR in healthcare can help reduce patients’ anxiety, improve management of pain after a procedure, and shorten the length of stay and associated costs — this benefits everyone, from family members dealing with adjacent stress, to the patient, to the provider and hospital itself.

It is no secret that the future of healthcare will empower individuals to be their own practitioners, and that traditional medicine will not be limited in scope to the boundaries of hospital walls. So, whether in or out of the hospital, Samsung is committed to the future success of VR — not only because it’s a game-changing technology, but because of its immense potential to improve daily lives and provide tailored solutions to all sorts of patients across generations.

As the medical community in the U.S. continues to seek innovative pain management alternatives, Samsung looks forward to continuing its investment in these important, cutting-edge partnerships as part of our mission to inspire the world and create the future.

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