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How VR is Disrupting the Traditional Healthcare Training Model

VR is being touted as ‘the future of education’ - but does that mean for the healthcare industry, where extensive training is so essential for achieving good outcomes?

Training for the worst

Scenario and simulation training in healthcare is essential.

Presenting staff with a wide variety of realistic scenarios - such as dealing with aggressive patients, end of life care, or how to help a cognitively impaired patient - drastically improves the quality of care provided and helps equip them for these common, but often stressful situations, that may occur.

Unfortunately, the reality of this type of training is that it’s time consuming, expensive and location dependent.  

It often requires significant personal time investment, or time away from the day to day activities and incurs a time and dollar cost for course trainers to deliver the appropriate training materials. 

Traditional isn’t cutting it

You’d no doubt be familiar with the traditional approach to this training -  a classroom setting, powerpoint presentations and physical handouts, typically delivered in large groups.

This model not only results in low retention rates but it doesn’t allow for full student participation - the restrictions of time and availability mean that only 10 - 20% of students currently receive hands-on, individual, simulation training. 

The remaining 80% of students will face these difficult situations for the first time when it happens on the job - ultimately leading to a high chance of poor management and less than optimal outcomes for health practitioners and patients alike, in these situations.  

The question was how do we get students to learn and make mistakes in an immersive, safe and cost effective environment?

How VR is upgrading Health Training

Students are generally not able to practice their skills outside of an in-classroom training setting, and it’s no surprise that high risk/complex scenarios are notoriously hard to teach. 

Enter - Virtual Reality.

VR offers learners the rare ability to practice high-risk scenarios at home or in a supported environment before having to apply this to a real-life situation.

VR is now being touted as ‘the future of education’ - so what does that mean for the healthcare industry, where extensive training is so essential for achieving good outcomes? 

If you’ve used VR before, you know it’s key feature is that it’s incredibly immersive. 

Proponent’s of VR believe that no other technology can replicate real life - and the body’s response to it - like Virtual Reality.

With this in mind, VR certainly presents itself as the ideal platform for scenario training as it can elicit the same stress response that someone would face in a real life situation.

The exposure and familiarity can then give students the confidence and ability to deal with those high-pressure and stressful, real-life situations.

VR Training - a Case Study

In 2019, Curve partnered with Holmesglen Institute and Swinburne University of Technology, and the Victorian State Government on a groundbreaking Virtual Reality project.

The problem we were solving for: how do we get students to learn and make mistakes in an immersive, safe and cost effective environment?

An answer - VirtualU.

VirtualU was designed as a platform that accompanies real-world scenario training TAFE and university, tailored specifically for the healthcare field.

VirtualU encouraged 100% active participation in simulation training and reduced costs by 70-85% for the educational institutes that utilised the platform.

Screenshots of the VirtualU Platform

The potential of VR training

There’s no doubt that Virtual Reality and its use in training healthcare professionals is an exciting emerging field.

While still in its infancy, early research into its use and effectiveness is promising, suggesting it is a useful platform that enables the ability to prepare health professionals for complex and ‘hard to simulate’ scenarios.

The potential applications outside of TAFE and Universities are also large, and could certainly include aged care facilities, medical sales, and surgical training.

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