VR has opened up a range of new possibilities for services and treatments in the healthcare industry, and the industry is expected to experience significant growth in the next five years.
The immersive experience created by VR is already being used in a variety of ways by healthcare professionals, from pain and stress management therapy to training and simulation.
ABI Research forecasts that VR services in the medical and healthcare segment is about to explode in value from $8.9 million in 2017 to around $285 million in 2022. Although still niche, the growing interest and investment in VR applications from professionals, hospitals and medical institutions is going to lead to a significant new wave of applications being used to treat patients around the world.
Four key areas
The applications that VR has for the medical and healthcare industry will be focused in four main areas:
Currently the most commonly deployed area for VR applications, therapeutic uses for the technology usually require the supervision of therapist’s or physician. Examples of this would-be treatment for PTSD.
There are applications that don’t require the direct supervision of a professional, like VR sleep management solutions. There is a growing trend of hospitals and other healthcare facilities trailing immersive experiences aimed at helping individuals deal with anxiety, PTSD, pain management and neuro-recovery.
Recent notable developments include the US regulator FDA approving MindMaze’s VR rehabilitation platform, Kortex’s stress and sleep management application and EyeSync’s eye movement tracking system.
It is in the area of training that VR is set to experience a lot of growth in the next five years, as medical players look to increase the efficiency of training will also reducing costs. By allowing students and professionals to train in a realistic environment that allows multiple repetitions, while also reducing the amount of resources needed and the number of trainers required, VR could be the perfect technology for the industry.
There are still problems with the current level of technological sophistication, with many professionals thinking that current generation hardware does not meet the very high levels of accuracy and realism of simulations needed. More R&D is needed to increase the power, speed and utility of the VR tech available to healthcare and medical professionals.
Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research, said:
"Non-medical therapeutic applications which usually don't require strict regulations compared to medical therapies are growing in the consumer segment too. VR applications such as smoke cessation, sleep management, stress management, and memory improvement for the elderly are increasingly used by consumers for their general health."
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