Going to hospital isn’t fun for anyone, but for children it can be downright terrifying, with complex medical terminology being thrown around, and scary-looking medical instruments everywhere. Boston Children’s Hospital are looking to reduce the anxiety levels of its young patients using virtual reality (VR).
A proof of concept VR program called HealthVoyager is being used at Boston Children’s hospital as part of a clinical study to help improve patient and family understanding and engagement.
The currently available version of HealthVoyager has been designed for patients with gastrointestinal problems, and uses 3D VR imaging to show a patient’s individual medical records to life in order to explain to paediatric patients conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis in an engaging and memorable way.
Traditionally, explaining test results involves print outs that become part of a patient’s medical records. These are usually text-based, containing complex medical language and with images that are hard to interpret for the untrained.
Putting myself in a nine-year-old’s shoes, I can see HealthVoyager being a more fun and valuable way to learn about and share complicated information like endoscopic findings,” said Michael Docktor, MD, a paediatric gastroenterologist who co-developed the tool and Clinical Director of Innovation at Boston Children’s Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator. “We hypothesize that the more children and their families can visualize and understand their disease, the more likely they may be to communicate when they have a particular symptom and adhere to their therapies.”
The HealthVoyager app was developed by Klick Health, and is part of a new wave of immersive healthcare projects, according to Yan Fossat, VP of Klick Labs at Klick Health: “Hospitals have started using VR in healthcare, most notably, to distract hospital patients as part of pain management. That’s important but it’s only scratching the surface of what’s possible in patient care. Customizable patient education experiences like HealthVoyager have the potential to directly impact the course of a patient’s illness in a major way.”