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Challenges to Integrating VR into your Health IT System

From providing calming virtual environments for Alzheimer’s patients to assisting in the physical recovery of trauma patients, VR systems are changing healthcare for the better. But despite the huge potential for VR to reshape the way medicine is practised, there are several challenges developers will need to tackle before the healthcare sector can integrate it seamlessly. So, what are the core challenges for healthcare providers looking to adopt VR technology?

Accurate Models for Immersive Environments

While the potential for realistic graphics within VR Systems continues to grow, the current level of realism isn’t quite ready for expanded uses. The graphics of current virtual environments may be appropriate for a fantastical space to calm or engage a dementia patient but is nowhere near the level of immersive realism required for many real-world applications. Just imagine a surgeon attempting a complex invasive surgery using VR without an accurate depiction of the human body!

VR systems need to be integrated with a host of other stand-alone operations including accurate modelling of physics, sound, temperature and so on. Without these simulators, the virtual space is simply not immersive enough to make it worth investing in. The addition of these more immersive systems also means even greater data and processing demands, an area that’s already a key challenge for VR developers.

Fine Motor Control and Integration of Existing Tools

The capabilities of current consumer VR controllers are still limited by their ability to accurately mimic motor control. While the current specificity of movement within a virtual space is not a hindrance to patients exploring a virtual landscape, a much higher level of accuracy is required for more precise activities. The shape and usability of these controllers at the consumer level are still very similar to video game gamepads, lacking the specificity required in the tools of a surgeon or engineer.

Moreover, surgical scenarios require the system to have haptic feedback with immediate response times to provide a surgeon with all the data they require if they were in a real world surgical practice. At present, medical staff would need to be retrained in how to use the VR interface to produce a similar result in the real world. Instead, these VR controllers need to be developed to accurately feel like their real-world counterparts in both weight and physical operation. In other words, the VR system must be not just useful, but equal or better in delivering an accurate virtual environment to make it worthwhile for the medical practitioner.

Computing Requirements

Only 1% of the 1.4 billion computers in the world can support the current processing requirements of VR systems. Not only does this suggest that healthcare computers will need to be upgraded with high-performance video cards and processors, but these upgrades will have to continue as the technology becomes more advanced. These items are already set to cost providers between $300-$500 per item; a substantial investment to roll out for even one facility.

Why such high processing requirements? Without this, the delay in what the user sees in their display creates a sensation akin motion sickness and potentially numerous other side effects. Eliminating this lag in the user’s display is a key challenge for VR developers towards greater use in the healthcare sector. As further processes become integral to VR systems like the calculation of physics, sound and temperature, this will put even greater strain on both the processing speeds and transfer of data required by the facilities IT framework.

Vita Enterprise Solutions: Solis

As VR systems continue to develop and be integrated with other technologies like bio-feedback and superior processing speeds, the potential for VR to change the way healthcare is delivered can only grow. Healthcare providers who adopt the technology early in its development will benefit most by laying the necessary IT framework for further VR improvements and acclimatising staff and patients much earlier.

Vita Enterprise Solutions is ready to meet these challenges and is excited to provide healthcare solutions utilising VR technologies. Through our partnership with BuildVR, we can facilitate VR systems like Solis for your facility. Solis is a virtual reality hardware and software package that provides dementia patients with a truly immersive experience to improve their quality of life. Solis is an all-inclusive, ready-to-go package, including a Samsung device and headset.  Talk to one of our trained professionals on how Solis and VR systems can benefit the well-being of your patients on 1300 139 310 or enquire online today.

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