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How VR is Being Used in the Pharma Space
VR, or virtual reality, has long been used in video games and for entertainment applications, but did you know it can also be used in medicine? In particular, it’s useful for pharma spaces, where has proven to be quite useful.
One way it’s been used is to catch people’s attention. When you head to the latest conference to check out new technology and medications, you may be surprised to see some VR or AR (augmented reality) games to lure people in. In this instance, the VR is not actually used in healthcare, but to attract people to look at what is on offer. However, there’s far more to VR than simply playing around at an event booth.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is just what it sounds like: a reality that is constructed. You usually access this via a headset that gives you the sensation of being in another environment, such as a classroom, vehicle or even inside a body. VR can be used on a TV or computer monitor, but is far more effective with the right gear. You usually have gloves or similar handheld devices so that you can move your hands and interact within the virtual reality.
Augmented reality is often lumped in with VR, but it’s quite different. Instead of creating a fake world for you to reside in, AR allows you to look at what is already around you with enhancements. For example, you might use your smartphone to look around the room and see items that aren’t really there appear through AR goggles or on a device screen. The game Pokemon Go is a good example of this.
In the pharma world, AR could be used to help determine what you’re looking at by popping up information on your screen when you look at something specific, such as a medication. Imagine merely holding your phone over a medication and having the identification information pop up, along with side effects and dosages. It could change the way we manage pharmacies.
Can VR Replace Drugs?
Obviously you wouldn’t attempt to replace all drugs or medications with virtual reality, but treating some issues with tech is actually a good idea. For example, VR can be useful in treating mental health issues and even aid in kicking addictions. One such technological innovation helps people eliminate their urge to smoke cigarettes by integrating not only with a VR headset, but a scent machine to give a truly immersive experience.
This same technology is used to help prevent drug addiction and even alcoholism. The idea behind it is to ease people away from these destructive behaviors and give them the tools necessary to fight the temptation. Virtual reality may even help manage pain when used correctly, which would reduce the use of painkillers and reduce the need for addictive pain medications.
When it comes to mental health, VR tech may not eliminate the need for all drugs, but it can help those with phobias or psychosis. It’s been quite some time since psychologists began using VR to treat PTSD, as well as phobias. Today’s tech is focusing more on mindfulness, which may ease anxiety and depression, eventually helping sufferers to move away from drugs.
Pharmacist Training with Virtual Reality
Need to learn a new piece of machinery or pick up some knowledge on a piece of equipment you can’t currently access? That’s not a problem with the right VR technology. Pharmacists in training can easily jump into the process of learning to use a machine, even if they don’t have it in front of them.
Even more so, VR can allow pharmacists to learn new techniques and methods, going through the actual motions. This eliminates the need for large classrooms, something that is particularly useful at this point in time. Even when in lockdown, people can continue to learn with hands-on technology. VR, when done properly, can take the student right inside the body to see exactly how it works and where everything is. There are even games associated with this to get you feeling comfortable within the body and identifying the various parts, inside and out.
The fact is that it’s easier to learn when the content is engaging and, through the use of VR, even if not fully immersive, students remain interested. They can test out how a patient reacts to a medication, see the reactions in the body up close and personal, or even determine what’s inside a machine. With VR, machinery can be used and examined before the student even comes into contact with them, limiting liability and ensuring user compliance.
Building Empathy and Marketing Strategies
VR allows the doctor to look through the patient’s eyes, which can be very useful in creating empathy. An empathetic doctor, scientist, or pharmacist is often better with patients. A good example would be demonstrating what a stroke might look like to the victim through AR. AR and VR can also be used to show how someone with night blindness sees the world in the dark.
When Pharma wishes to engage doctors, particularly in marketing efforts, it’s necessary to get more creative. After all, it’s nearly impossible to keep someone’s attention when your pitch is dull. However, virtual or augmented reality in Pharma is just the ticket for getting doctors into the medications you offer. The technology gives them a better look inside the patient before and after the medication and is a unique way of presenting information. This gives you a way to share info on your latest medications or breakthroughs without taking up much space or giving long lectures. Instead, the marketing experience is a lot of fun for everyone involved.
Overall, virtual reality is ideal for showing a new perspective and that can be especially invaluable when working in medicine.