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Virtual reality in medical education: Benefits and powerful use cases

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VR in Medical Training Hybrid Page_hero

Through life-like simulations and outstanding visual tools, the latest virtual reality and immersive education solutions empower medical professionals and transform health outcomes — and among all of the industries developing VR solutions, healthcare might be the one with the most sweeping effects. 

After all, out of the new frontier of VR in medical education, few stand to benefit more than future patients, which is to say, all of us.

Gear up for increased metrics

Immersive, yet safe environments in which medical students can practice their skills without risk have kick-started a revolution in medical education — and can dramatically reduce the costs of medical training.

We’ve seen it firsthand: With over a decade of experience in virtual reality software development, we’ve partnered with diverse healthcare organizations to optimize their learning processes and improve learning efficiency with VR

Industry overview

VR in healthcare is thriving. Its market size has grown consistently at 30~36 percent YoY, with projections estimating a tenfold increase by 2030. High demand is fueled by dramatic technological improvements and incontestable evidence that virtual reality for educational purposes is an effective tool for medical staff.

Furthermore, VR in healthcare goes way beyond head-mounted displays (HMDs) or headsets: Virtual reality apps can utilize external tools like biometric trackers to monitor and relay the physiological data of patients, haptic sensors to convey tactile feedback, and even include AI technology to enhance visual acuity.

Less risk, better efficiency

Many prestigious medical schools and teaching hospitals around the world, including Johns Hopkins University and Harvard in the US and the UK’s University of Oxford, have embraced virtual reality in medical education technology to train students, doctors, and healthcare practitioners in new skills in a safe and immersive educational environment. Governments have also noticed the benefits brought by the technology, with the EU sponsoring short-term roadmaps to increase the availability of VR medical products and services in Central Europe.

Multiple studies assessing the performance of medical students with VR-based training have shown that the pass rate for tasks trained with VR is up to 31 percent higher than conventionally trained groups. Many tasks can be performed faster with VR, too.

Use cases: VR in medical training takes off

Virtual reality in medical education is now regularly used to help students learn to operate and participate in medical procedures, especially in critical situations where an error could have devastating consequences.

Indeed, immersive simulated environments created by educational VR applications allow medical professionals at any stage in their careers to take the lead in hyper-realistic but risk-free emergency scenarios. That translates into a better understanding of what can unfold in any operating room.

Advanced medical training

  • Remote training that’s on par or better than in-person equivalents
  • Preemptive learning and diagnostic training to identify rare conditions
  • Unlimited, cost-free training sessions

Surgery and emergency simulations

  • Quick decision-making training without real-life ER risks
  • An ideal opportunity to expose students to novel scenarios
  • Soft skills training, such as how to lead and collaborate under pressure

Patient interaction applications

  • Virtual reality simulations of a patient’s medical condition to help understand pain and discomfort
  • Empathy-building scenarios that emulate challenging patient-doctor conversations
  • Nursing education training for rehabilitation assistance

Need help figuring out the next step for your VR app?

Our experts can sit down with you to discuss how to refine and scale your solution.

How VR advances traditional medical training

By incorporating VR technologies and education apps into a medical learning environment, whether remote or in-person, medical schools and facilities can ensure that their practitioners are ready for a broad array of real-world challenges that lie ahead in their careers.

Immersive and realistic virtual reality simulations

VR closely replicates real-world scenarios, bridging the gap between theory and practice in medical and nursing education.

Cost-effective training methods

VR eliminates the need for expensive (and often single-use) training equipment and biological models. Instead, it favors applications that can be run as many times as wanted by multiple trainees simultaneously.

Safe learning environments

With educational VR apps, students can learn from their mistakes without dire consequences. By repeating procedures at will, future doctors can refine their techniques and become more confident in complex practices, such as surgical training.

Enhanced spatial visualization

Medical facilities can develop their own holographic content, with immersive education apps like HoloAnatomy carrying over 9,000 3D custom anatomic models. VR lets trainees visualize and manipulate these highly detailed 3D models of vessels, bones, organs, and tumors, improving the student’s knowledge of anatomy. That means more precise diagnoses, better surgical planning, and more effective treatments.

Increased accessibility for teachers and students

VR training is remote-friendly: Students can practice and learn wherever it’s convenient. That’s key to attracting new students and teachers who couldn’t otherwise be present in physical classes.

Measurable performance assessments

Solid VR apps have all the tools in place to measure each user’s actions, movements, and decision-making processes during virtual procedures. This data informs objective evaluations and feedback, plus personalized guidance for improvement.

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How to build a medical training VR app

Your developing partner of choice should be ready to support every step of your virtual reality app development. From planning to immersive QA testing and training, you’re better served when your healthtech and VR experts prioritize communication throughout the entire process.

The end result? Medical professionals who are confident and effective — and better prepared to excel in their chosen healthcare field.

01

Discovery

Consultants analyze how to best leverage virtual reality technologies in your specific medical scenario, identifying your most pressing challenges and drafting a solution that benefits your entire organization, including students, doctors, and patients.

02

Architecture and design

At this point, engineers design scalable architecture that’s easy to maintain and update, which winds up supporting the user experience.

03

Virtual reality app development

In this step, handpicked VR specialists build immersive virtual reality apps that elevate medical efficiency through the very best of what VR simulation can offer in healthcare.

04

Third-party software integration

With the framework in place, engineers then sync with reputable third-party providers to guarantee every integration goes smoothly. That way you reap the benefits of a perfectly tailored VR medical product with seamless integrations.

05

Solution testing

A trustworthy QA team uses tried-and-true manual and automated testing techniques to identify your system’s vulnerabilities, ensuring your end-user experience is intuitive and realistic across devices.

06

Refinement

A great developing partner will strive to keep advancing your goals even post-release. Through app usage and user feedback data, it’s simpler to establish improvement and optimization plans to update your solution so it keeps exceeding expectations.

What about compliance?

If your VR medical training app requires the storing, transmitting, or processing of protected health information (PHI), you need to pick engineers who are seasoned experts in compliance with HIPAA and GDPR privacy regulations.

Preferably, go for development partners that apply robust security measures in any app they design, healthcare or otherwise. You’ll be better served by developers with a clear record of prioritizing features that protect user data, authentication credentials, data transmission, and network infrastructure.

VR’s technology stack

Here’s a good ballpark of the core VR technologies required to develop an immersive virtual reality product ready for the market, without cutting corners on quality.

VR headsets

Oculus RiftHTC ViveWindows Mixed RealityOculus Quest 2Samsung Gear

VR engines

Unity 3DUnreal Engine

3D modeling and animation

Autodesk MAYABlenderAutodesk 3Ds Max

Remarkable success stories of virtual reality in medical education

Many VR medical training platforms have been developed throughout the last decade, some of which became references due to their unique features, technological prowess, or attention to detail. Among the most renowned:

Level Ex

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Level Ex is a gamified medical training VR app in which it’s impossible to discern where the game ends and the education begins. As a leading medical video game studio, Level Ex goes beyond the basics of VR in medical education and delivers progression-based systems based on medical specialization, skill, and overall goals, with over a million medical professionals trying out their products.

Harvard Medtech

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Harvard Medtech centers its core VR proposition around helping patients overcome the biological, psychological, and social barriers created by life-changing trauma. To teach patients how to engage with the VR platform, doctors must first learn it themselves, guided through a methodology designed to train empathy and communication skills in healthcare professionals who work remotely.

Oxford Medical Simulation

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Oxford Medical Simulation is a medical education platform that focuses heavily on virtual reality simulations, particularly in the soft skills needed to interact positively with patients. Used by over a dozen American universities and the UK’s National Health Service, OMS allows medical professionals to practice patient management, communications skills, and clinical decision-making in simulations designed to enhance diagnostics and patient care abilities.

How we can help with VR in medical education app development services

Designing an exceptional VR healthcare app is no easy feat. However, experienced custom software companies understand how to take business and technical sensibilities into account to nurture efficient solutions.

You can count on our healthtech developers for:

Consulting

Our specialists provide advisory and consulting on technical aspects and help with understanding project requirements at every step of building your VR medical app.

  • Business analysis and research
  • System requirements specifications
  • Tech stack selection
  • Assistance in choosing the best-fit VR equipment

Full-cycle VR medical education app development

We can supplement your existing teams with our engineers or assemble a skilled team and take on the project from scratch. That includes adding a VR component to an existing app or software.

  • Architecture design
  • UX/UI design
  • 3D modeling
  • Interactive content development
  • Custom software and hardware integrations
  • Continuous support

Why build your immersive training solution with Vention

Top-tier VR development company

  • Dedicated VR department
  • Full-cycle software development teams sync across time zones
  • 70% of our app developers are senior-level and team leads

Exceptional flexibility

  • CVs within 48 hours
  • 2 weeks from contact to kickoff
  • Zero operational overhead

A proven track record

  • 500+ startups and digital enterprises served to date
  • Dialogue, Thirty Madison, and ClassPass are among our top startup clients
  • 36 month average engagement

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