VR Is An Emerging Health Care Game-Changer

VR Is An Emerging Health Care Game-Changer
December 3, 2016

As Obamacare returns to center stage, stakeholders in the healthcare debate will look for ways to squeeze costs while improving medical care. 


I am not a doctor, politician, or accountant.  I am an Emmy Award-winning producer in interactive educational media and director of a cutting edge Master of Fine Arts in communication media.  I believe there are ways to use new technologies in virtual and augmented reality to hold down medical costs and enhance care.

Images from an OhioHealth newsroom video about the project.  360-degree camera on right.


Virtual Emergency Room


Collaborating with academics and healthcare experts at Ohio University, Northern Arizona University, and OhioHealth, our Immersive Media Initiative is creating a virtual trauma bay for pennies on the dollar compared to the real thing. 


Imagine putting on a headset and immediately you are in a trauma bay with real patients.  You can hear and see everything just by turning your head:  the patient, the medical team, and the equipment.  You are there.  By spring, the next class of emergency room physicians will be able to participate in this sort of training. 


With 360-degree video, the viewer is in control of what is being watched, and when.  Imagine being able to freeze an image at any point during a live trauma and then being able to look around and observe important elements of the room:  the medical monitors, the patient, or the professionals. 


The audio is immersive as well.  You hear the monitors behind you, and can look and see them.  Cross talk between team members is crystal clear.  If you want to isolate on the head nurse’s interaction with the team, you can do that. Then you can watch the whole trauma again, this time from the perspective of the head surgeon.

Images from the 360-degree video shot at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.  Man in the baseball hat is a paramedic delivering the patient.

Virtual trauma room training brings three important cost-effective benefits to healthcare:


  • •  First, it helps acclimate newcomers to a stressful, chaotic job setting that has low tolerance for error. 
  • •  Second, it allows students to experience the realities of the emergency room without getting in the way or putting others at risk. 
  • •  And third, it allows experienced professionals to assess their work in a way that hasn’t been possible before.  It’s like post-game analysis, on steroids.




Training via photography, audio, and video are not new to healthcare.  In the 90’s, I was the “video guy” at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus, OH.  Hospitals like Grant have a constant need for video to document, promote, and train medical professionals. Two decades ago, I was choosing the shots, editing video, and showing medical students what I thought they should be seeing. 


This year, I returned to the trauma center at Grant with a virtual reality team from Ohio University’s Immersive Media Initiative.  Using five cameras and eight microphones, we recorded five medical traumas during a 12-hour period on a weekend in July.  Respecting privacy, we agreed to use footage only if patients granted permission; three of five did so.  We produced three 20-minute 360-degree immersive experiences that allow medical students to observe and listen as if they were in any one of three positions in the trauma bay.

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