Introduction COVID-19 pushed us as an organisation to step-up our ability to change and adapt. Our workforce has embraced the opportunities generated by digital transformations during the pandemic. Virtual Reality (VR) is revolutionising healthcare. We wanted to explore the use of VR as part of a non-pharmacological approach to symptom management and start to measure patient outcomes in a meaningful way while improving the patient’s overall experience.
Actions Our initial proposal was that the use of the VR headset could positively impact on patient wellbeing. Our living well centre team commenced a pilot in conjunction with our inpatient unit. As new technology becomes more accessible use of these as part of the patient’s overall plan of care is a realistic possibility even for small organisations.
Utilising freely available innovative apps the team supported patients in immersive experiences including guided relaxation meditation and visits to locations such as white sandy beaches, forests and mountain ranges. Initial outcomes were positive utilising a simple wellbeing score and numerical pain scoring. This has led us, in conjunction with a digital fabrication laboratory based at a local college, to look at opportunities for using emerging technologies in interventions and training. Our next project is a VR tour of our inpatient unit and grounds filmed using a 360 degree camera for patients to watch at home to try and alleviate some of the worries and anxieties they may have about staying with us or accessing our services.
Conclusion The use of VR in healthcare has endless possibilities. Working with our local education partners is an opportunity to explore this for our patients. Positive outcomes have provided the impetus to try new approaches that will have real impact on patient wellbeing and symptom management.
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