Miami hospital goes virtual in deploying patient content, educational strategy

Miami Children's Hospital is using virtual reality (VR) to provide medical instruction for patients and educational insight for medical staff.

The hospital is working with a vendor to create VR smartphone apps that offer life-saving instruction, including a cardiopulmonary resuscitation app and a Heimlich maneuver app, reports the South Florida Business Journal.

VR provides a more beneficial and productive way to teach and educate, as the technology allows for interactive participation using gesture, eye gaze control and voice commands, according to the report. These aspects are far more valuable than traditional videos and written tests, as real-time participant feedback and assessment can be achieved. The app also measures metrics and helps ensure students are learning the correct life-saving techniques.

"Through our MCH Virtual Reality education, we are breaking new ground with leading technologies and look forward to transitioning our extensive training library from two-dimensional to three-dimensional immersive content for the benefit of patients and the entire healthcare community" Narendra Kini, M.D., president and CEO of Miami Children's Hospital, said upon announcement of the partnership in March.

Use of VR technology in healthcare has grown in recent years. A Kalorama Information report said market for VR-related healthcare products, from medical data visualization to robot-assisted surgery and education, was worth $670 million in 2010 with a 10 percent annual growth rate since 2006. 

In addition, Google and Microsoft already are making mHealth inroads with VR technology. Microsoft's HoloLens poses great potential, from boosting educational strategies and teaching approaches to simulating complex surgeries and helping surgical teams avoid missteps. Meanwhile Google Glass has been deployed in surgical, emergency care and remote telemedicine efforts over the past several years. A recent research letter deemed it a feasible tool for dermatology diagnosis in the emergency room setting.

The Miami Children's Hospital 3-D VR system involves a smartphone or desktop and works with VR devices including Oculus Rift, VRONE and Google's Cardboard.

For more information:
- read the South Florida Business Journal report
- read the announcement

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