Last month I attended the annual New Zealand Medical Technologies Conference. The conference is attended by a very broad church of people involved in providing healthcare, supporting healthcare providers and funding healthcare in New Zealand. Speakers included Medical Futurists, Government regulators, Healthcare Practitioners, Government and Opposition Healthcare spokespeople, Patients, Economists, Hospital CEO’s to name but a few. One of the key messages I took away from the conference was the impact Virtual Reality (VR) is going to play in both the education of Health Care Practitioners and the treatment planning of patients. I also came away thinking that we can also reasonably assume that VR is going to have a much bigger impact on our lives than I thought it would have before I attended the conference.
Like most technologies, VR has been around for some time and Wikipedia provides some excellent background on the origins of VR and its closely related Augmented Reality (AR). From a dental perspective, the two aspects of VR that have immediate impact, in my opinion, is the education and pain management. From an education perspective, both the patient and the Oral Health Professional are able to watch a dental procedure with a 3600 vision and have a depth of field that is not available now, thus allowing a greater understanding of the procedure itself. Meanwhile, the VR simulation would also allow the Oral Health Professionals to manage their Patients’ pain in a more calculated and efficient manner whilst reducing the need for anaesthetic use. An additional benefit of this technology is also with respect to reduced recovery times from illness and surgery. The boundaries remain limitless.
Many Oral Health Practitioners are already familiar with the power of visual stimulus during treatment to help the patient relax having installed TV monitors in their practice. Clearly from an Oral Health perspective, it would be beneficial to find an alternative to the current design of the VR mask should the technology be applied during Oral health treatments. Also, the VR technology would appear to work better when you are sitting or standing as opposed to being supine.
However, at the pace technology is advancing, it won’t be long before a solution is found to the current drawbacks to applying the technology in the surgery. The article is worth a read to stimulate the thought process of how to apply VR in improving patient outcomes from implementing VR for education and improved patient outcomes.
Thank you for your business in June and July. We continue to look forward to helping you provide the best possible care in the coming months.