Hi! Hope you are well! I recently returned from the Virtual Medicine Conference at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. It was fantastic to learn from the diverse panel of researchers, physicians, and patients that are exploring other alternatives to treatment. A special hat tip to Surgeons and their Surgical Departments for their investment in technologies that assist in medical education, simulation training, and patient health. They’ve been such a positive and influential force in advancing care.
Although virtual reality is a new concept for many, the research in this area has been evolving for over 30 years. Virtual and augmented reality technologies are now contributing to prevention and wellness; objectives assessment and evaluation; functional training; improved interventions; facilitating adherence; and distributed care delivery. In medical training, VR/AR are being used for clinical, surgical, and interpersonal skills training; use of equipment and tools; team training in ER and Surgical departments; Emergency response training and rehearsal; and empathy. There’s a great deal of potential in these technologies and how they may help Canadians address our current healthcare challenges.
As it stands, Canada ranks 9th out of 11th in the Commonwealth Fund report. Canada ranks last in timely access to physicians and services and demonstrates an over reliance on expensive hospital care and on physicians. Canadians also rank lowest in access to their health information especially for people in rural and remote areas. Health records for Indigenous Peoples remain largely paper-based. Furthermore, there’s a lack of digital services for mental health issues. There’s a lack of coordination and fragmentation across the provincial and territorial health systems that’s also reflected in our siloed Electronic Health Record (EHR) infrastructure. Our EHR has yet to be tapped to improve our patient care.
How do we change this? By becoming aware and educated on these emerging technologies, exploring their use, and trying it out! If there’s a time to jump outside the box, it’s now!
I’ll be discussing the highlights and pearls gathered at the Faculty Development Breakfast on the 30th. For those unable to attend, here are a few resources and links that I gathered at this event and at the BC Health Summit (2018) for you to peruse:
- PrescribeIT: Canada’s Electronic Prescription Service.
- ACCESS Health: Canada Health Infoway.
- Mustimuhw Citizen Health Portal: Supports providers and patients to play a more active, digital health-enabled role in the circle of care.
- Mustimuhw Community Electronic Health Record: Client-centric electronic medical record or charting system for for First Nations Health Centres.
- Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone: Providing innovative ways to connect young people with the support they need, in the way they need it most.
- The Genome Canada Transplant Consortium.
- Associations Between Sensory Loss and Social Networks, Participation, Support, and Loneliness: Analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (2018) by Mick et al.
Intellectual, Behavioural, & Mental Health
- Altoida: Provides health care professionals objective measurements of cognitive performance, and is indicated for use as an adjunctive tool to aid in evaluation perceptual and memory function in patients 55 to 95 years old.
- Awake Labs: Technology to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live healthier and more independently.
- Bravemind: A clinical, interactive, virtual reality (VR) based exposure therapy tool being used to assess and treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Ellipsis Health: Uses Artificial Intelligence to improve behavioral health through the analysis of natural conversation.
- Mindmaze: Builds intuitive human machine interfaces through its breakthrough neuro-inspired computing platform.
- National Mental Health Innovation Center: To find, develop and put into practice big new ideas to prevent, treat and change the way people think about mental health.
- SimCoach: SimCoach project is developing virtual human support agents to serve as online guides for assisting military personnel and family members in breaking down barriers to initiating the healthcare process.
- Williams PanLab: Our current projects focus on depression and anxiety, with research that embraces individual differences in the experience of mental health disorders, and the associated disruptions to social and emotional function.
- The ENGAGE study: Integrating neuroimaging, virtual reality and smartphone sensing to understand self-regulation for managing depression and obesity in a precision medicine model (2018) by Williams et al.
- It’s Only a Computer: Virtual Humans Increase Willingness to Disclose by Lucas et al.
- Conversations Between Self and Self as Sigmund Freud—A Virtual Body Ownership Paradigm for Self Counselling (2015) by Osimo et al. Osimo’s research spun off as FREUD-ME: A New Perspective to Solve Your Problems.
- The Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Treatment of Anxiety and Other Psychiatric Disorders (2017) by Maples-Keller et al.
- Clinical Virtual Reality Tools to Advance the Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of PTSD (2017) by Rizzo et al.
- Embodying Self-Compassion within Virtual Reality and its Effects on Patients with Depression (2016) by Falconer et al.
- AVATAR Therapy for Auditory Verbal Hallucinations in People with Psychosis: A Single-Blind, Randomised Controlled Trial (2017) by Craig et al.
- Virtual Reality Therapy for Refractory Auditory Verbal Hallucinations in Schizophrenia: A Pilot Clinical Trial (2018) by du Sert.
- The Acceptability and Feasibility of a Novel Virtual Reality Based Social Skills Training Game for Schizophrenia: Preliminary Findings (2018) by Adery.
- Illusory ownership of a virtual child body causes overestimation of object sizes and implicit attitude changes (2013) by Banakou et al.
- A Virtual Out-of-Body Experience Reduces Fear of Death (2017) by Bourdin et al. Watch the VR video experience here.
- A Deep-Dream Virtual Reality Platform for Studying Altered Perceptual Phenomenology (2017) by Suzuki et al.
Diagnosis, Assessment, & Recovery
- Pain Studies Lab: Research group studies, invents and designs technologies for people who live with persistent pain, their pain physicians and healthcare professionals, their caregivers, and their social milieux.
- Sensync: Sensync is a new media and technology company that specializes in the creation of remarkable multi sensory experiences.
- SyncThink: Concussion assessment.
- IrisVision: helps users overcome many visual conditions, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and glaucoma.
- Equility: Designing state-of-the art, non-drug technologies for modulating the body’s neural system, in the hands of clinicians, organizations, and individuals.
- The Analgesic Effects of Opioids and Immersive Virtual Reality Distraction: Evidence from Subjective and Functional Brain Imaging Assessments (2007) by Hoffman et al.
- Recovery of Over-Ground Walking after Chronic Motor Complete Spinal Cord Injury (2018) by Angeli et al.
- Long-Term Training with a Brain-Machine Interface-Based Gait Protocol Induces Partial Neurological Recovery in Paraplegic Patients (2016) by Donati et al.
- HealthScholars: Deliver, evaluate, target and optimize your training programs from a single, comprehensive, blended learning platform.
- Dock Health: Secure task management and team collaboration. HIPAA compliant.
- Medumo: Digital health startup working to help healthcare organizations deliver the right instructions to the right patient at the right time.
Families & Children: Education & Health
- Mightier: Bioresponsive video game program helps kids 6-14 build calming skills to meet real-world challenges.
- Boston Children’s Hospital Early Literacy Screening: An engaging, 20 minute game that effectively screens for early signs of literacy challenges.
- Luminopia: A virtual reality content platform that treats lazy eye.
- Caremap: A tool for families to access essential healthcare information on the go.
- Huggable: A “social robot” teddy bear designed to help sick kids cope with being in the hospital.
- Simply Sayin’ – Medical Jargon for Families. Uses pictures, sounds and a family-friendly glossary of terms to facilitate clear conversations between the healthcare provider, child, and family.
- KidsMD Alexa Skill: The skill allows a user to seek general health information for common ailments and medication dosing from Boston Children’s Hospital.
- Flu Doctor Alexa Skill: This skill can help answer your questions about the flu shot, the flu vaccine in general, and influenza virus.
- Walking with Pokémon: Increased Physical Activity Observed in Older Players of Augmented Reality Game (2019) by Hino et al.
- Can Virtual Reality Reduce High Blood Pressure at a Church in South L.A.? (2017) by
- Alexa Skills: Create Alexa Skills via Amazon Skill Blueprints.
Research, Articles, & Reports
- Embodied Medicine: Mens Sana in Corpore Virtuale Sano.
- Human Computer Confluence: Transforming Human Experience Through Symbiotic Technologies.
- Interacting with Presence: HCI and the Sense of Presence in Computer-mediated Environments.
- Neuroscience of Virtual Reality: From Virtual Exposure to Embodied Medicine.
- Recommendations for Methodology of Virtual Reality Clinical Trials in Health Care by an International Working Group: Iterative Study (2019) by Birckhead et al.
Any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or save them for the breakfast.