Israel's Sheba Medical Center announces plan to become first fully VR-based hospital

With an eye on becoming the first fully VR-based hospital in the world, Israel-based Sheba Medical Center is incorporating virtual reality throughout each of its hospital departments including cognitive therapy, physical therapy and pain relief.

Announced Tuesday, the hospital is working with XRHealth Technology, which is based in both Boston and Israel, officials said. XRHealth, which specializes in extended reality and therapeutic application, was formerly known as VRHealth.

Officials said the hospital pursuing a strategy named "Innovation ARC," which stands for accelerate, redesign and collaborate, aimed at expanding efforts to transform the hospital into a center of innovation "that embodies a startup culture."

“We've identified medical virtualization as one of the technologies that will transform healthcare. Within this realm, we aim to be a leader in developing new health services based on VR," said Eyal Zimlichman, M.D., Sheba's chief medical and chief innovation officer, in a statement.

Virtual reality applications have become increasingly popular in healthcare settings from solutions that target opioid-free pain relief to those that combat loneliness among seniors. By 2020, it's estimated the global VR healthcare market could reach $3.8 billion.

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But officials said this is the most expansive commitment to virtual reality.

XRHealth’s product, the VRHealth Platform, has a number of Food and Drug Administration-registered VR medical apps, including cognitive assessment and training apps, motor function apps, pain management apps and behavioral apps. The technology collects and examines user data through artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-computing algorithms to deliver advanced data analytics to track patient recovery onsite and remotely.

“It is monumental in both the medical and technology industries that Sheba Medical Center has become the first fully-VR based hospital,” said Eran Orr, CEO of XRHealth, in a statement. “Sheba Medical Center is leading the transformation that the medical industry is now undergoing moving to a vision of innovation that will ultimately drive more innovation.”