- Hospitals are adopting virtual reality (VR) technology to help patients with pain management, Bloomberg reports.
- The VR approach is still in an experimental stage within the healthcare industry but the equipment has become a more affordable option for hospitals and may help offset annual hospital care costs, which accounted for about 32% of health expenditures in 2014.
- Among the companies that are already providing hospitals with headsets that can be therapeutic for some patients or have plans to do so are AppliedVR and DeepStream VR, as noted by Bloomberg.
The interest in using virtual reality to address some symptoms such as pain while in a hospital setting is not only centered around improving health outcomes but also the overall patient experience.
Bloomberg pointed to a research study from Shriners Hospital for Children and another from the Harborview Burn Center in Seattle in which patients reportedly experienced less pain. It added VR equipment prices have decreased by thousands of dollars with Facebook, Sony Corp., HTC Corp., among others making the market more competitive.
In addition, a recent report by SA-Business Research & Consulting Group projected the global healthcare virtual and augmented reality hardware market to grow at a CAGR of 29.2% from 2016 to 2020 and North America continued to lead the way in 2015 with a share of 41.7%.
Further research on the pain-relief capabilities of VR is needed because health systems have yet to see if using these headsets can actually have long-term effects on patients' wellbeing. VR has been found to be effective in providing other treatments including depression, phobias and anxiety. It can also serve as a physician training tool.