a medical professional using VR technologies to enhance his dignosis

June 3, 2024

Is VR a Boon for Healthcare or a Revolution in Making?

Have you ever heard that VR is correlated with pain management? Did you know that medical sciences use virtual reality in pain management when dealing with chronic pain? VR reduces the perception of pain. It can offer a non-pharmacological alternative for pain management, improving the quality of life.  It creates a distraction for patients undergoing painful procedures.

Currently, VR technology is advancing, making human life more comfortable. Medical VR is an area of fascination. The field is new, but there have been many positive effects on patients' and physicians' work. Recent statistics show that by 2026, the AR/VR market in the healthcare sector is expected to touch 7.05 billion dollars.

In the current scenario, the VR movement democratizes learning, enhances visualization of space and human anatomy, and thus lowers medical costs.

What is virtual reality for healthcare organizations?

Virtual reality is a vast topic; however, healthcare fundamentally differs from other applications. The healthcare industry is highly regulated, and new concepts may be integrated only after successful trials and tribulations. However, this doesn't prevent new development.

Fact- In 2022, the global healthcare VR market was estimated at $628 million.

Currently, VR helps patients improve their real-time experience over long periods. It's excellent for patient assessment and providing feedback. With quick assessments, healthcare experts can manage symptoms. VR devices are fast enough to capture vital medical information.

What role does VR play in the medical industry?

In the medical industry, VR has a significant role to play. From personalized treatments to human-computer interaction (HCI), it is slowly transitioning towards modern medical treatment. VR has a substantial number of applications in the healthcare industry.

Medical personnel examining a patient's brain using VR
Medical personnel examining a patient's brain using VR

Here, we'll focus on some of the critical areas,

Medical training

VR augments medical training. The technology enables learners to explore the human body for a better understanding. With highly realistic human body simulations, learners can examine organs, tissues, and systems in detail. The level of detail in functioning and examination provides a comprehensive understanding of anatomy and physiology.

VR is useful for developing surgery simulators. In 2018, the Johnson & Johnson Institute introduced a global VR training program to educate medical staff to perform medical procedures.

Highly realistic 3D models of bones, organs, tissues, blood vessels, and muscles provide a closer virtual inspection, enhancing the understanding of anatomy.

Simulation of the process of medical equipment operation allows safe training, flattening the learning curve.

Pain management

VR has been effective in treating pain. The treatment varies in complexity, but the fundamentals remain the same. The process starts when the nerves generating pain are identified. Procedures like muscle or nerve therapies follow it. Virtual reality quickens healing by integrating limited medication as an adjunct to other methods.  

VR treatment programs incorporate cognitive behavioral techniques such as guided imagery or mindfulness. Here, patients learn to control their thoughts and their reactions to pain. VR systems may integrate biofeedback sensors that monitor physiological signals such as heart rate or skin conductance.  

Psychological therapy

Millions of people across the globe suffer from different types of psychological issues, with phobias and anxiety disorders being a significant part. Exposure to virtual reality in the healthcare industry can be practical in the long term. The technology allows patients to face the fear, teaching them to cope with it and relax under the guidance of an expert.

In the US, PTSD affects 3.6% of the adult population. Some of the significant symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, altered perception, and anxiety. Psychological therapy with VR is valuable due to its immersive nature. Patients slowly normalize as technology takes away their traumatic experience.

Virtual medical simulation

Virtual reality in the healthcare industry creates immersive visualized scenarios where doctors, nurses, surgeons, and paramedics can immerse themselves in realistic medical scenarios without any actual patients. VR is widely used to plan and simulate surgical procedures before the exact process. A clear understanding of a patient's anatomy in 3D enhances the skills and reduces the risk of complications during actual surgeries.  

Common VR challenges in healthcare  

Similar to any technology, virtual reality in healthcare confronts general challenges. Some of the key concerns include:

Reduced face-to-face interactions

One key challenge in VR applications in the healthcare industry is the lack of face-to-face interactions and medical relationships between doctors and patients. In the case of telerehabilitation, using VR for rehabilitation at home or in a healthcare organization without direct supervision or physical presence may create undesirable outcomes.

Poor interaction between users (students) and actual patients may affect the learning program; as a result, medical schools need to coordinate physical and virtual training.

To decrease the disadvantages, patients should have physical interaction with the healthcare organization. Comprehensive evaluation is the key to success and better effectiveness.  


Virtual reality in the medical field, especially psychiatric treatments, requires comprehensive manual analysis before treating a patient. The treatment process is characterized by the 'why,' 'how,' and 'when.' Individual characteristics like gender, age, personality, and history of motion sickness, along with cognitive, physical, psychological, and functional characteristics, define the considerations.

Patients may have different levels of sensitivity. The successful implementation of virtual reality simulations in the medical field depends on suitable educational training. One example is that VR-based therapy for children may not yield the same result for older people.

People suffering from a particular type of psychiatric illness or different psychosis need more comprehensive treatment.  

Educating and training clinical experts and patients on the ethical use of VR for medical education and treatment is significant. Spending enough time and using skilled personnel to educate healthcare providers significantly impacts the more effective use of VR.  


The development of VR requires top-quality hardware, high-speed computers, efficient graphic cards, accurate tracking systems, high-resolution displays, and specialized accessories. VR applications for healthcare require higher programming skills, leading to increased investment. The design also requires the involvement and cooperation of experts from various fields.

Financial support must be defined, prioritized, and guaranteed to implement therapeutic and education programs. Changes in content in the final version can be more complex and costly. A VR development company will create prototypes; the final version will be presented after a complete content verification.

Safety considerations

Virtual reality and augmented reality in healthcare may target cognitive organizations, human experiences, memories, judgments, and beliefs. Experiencing multiple virtual experiences over the years can create self-identity difficulties. But most people experience positive aspects, i.e., improved performance, rather than negative effects.

Safety parameters and guidelines must be followed for any therapeutic and educational purpose.

Side effects

Cybersickness and perceptuomotor aftereffects are potential side effects of VR. Prolonged exposure to virtual reality applications in healthcare organizations can stimulate headaches and eye strain.  

Monitoring the health of users undergoing virtual reality in healthcare programs is essential. It's vital to ensure that these tools complement rather than substitute for the usual methods.

Benefits of Virtual reality in the medical field

Virtual reality offers many benefits in the healthcare industry. Some of the critical areas include:

Data monitoring

VR applications provide real-time patient progress data, including movement-tracking capabilities. These data are a valuable source of encouragement for patients who can see their progress. For instance, monitoring patient responses enables healthcare providers to detect early signs of treatment, non-compliance, adverse reactions, or lack of progress.

Holistic health approach

VR in the healthcare sector goes beyond treating a specific condition. VR fosters deep social connections to alleviate a sense of isolation, especially for people with disabilities, chronic pain, or other conditions that limit mobility. VR healthcare programs include guided relaxation exercises to reduce stress and improve overall physical relaxation.

A medical personnel using VR to examine medical Samples
A medical personnel using VR to examine medical Samples

Exposure therapy is a perfect example where an advanced virtual reality medical application treats patients with PTSD. The process involves using the imagination to recall the troubling event and talking through it with a therapist. The therapy session includes putting veterans back in the moment, like a warzone or hostage situation. This has been an effective treatment with incredible healing and reduction in anxiety.    

Non-invasive and non-impairing pain management

Virtual reality in healthcare has been practical in guiding women through labor. These applications can be used for patients managing chronic pain and trauma procedures.

Distraction therapy: VR environment offers immersive experiences that divert patients' attention, reducing pain intensity and discomfort.

Gate control theory: Engaging with multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, and sometimes haptic feedback, may block inhibiting pain sensations.

Fact-  82% of healthcare professionals agree VR offers convenient learning for medical students and practicing healthcare professionals.

Lowered learning time-frame

These days, many teaching hospitals and labs utilize virtual reality applications. VR solutions can work with students remotely, offering an immersive learning experience. Virtual reality provides long-term benefits, including fewer disputes and medical errors; as a result, it lowers administrative burdens. For instance, virtual reality medical training may reduce costs associated with traditional training methods.

One study compared the cost impact of VR evacuation training. It showed that the initial cost of VR was higher than that of live training; however, within three years, the price per participant for the VR training became lower than that of the live process.

While live training maintains a fixed cost, VR becomes less expensive in the long term.  

Future of VR in the healthcare sector

The cornerstone of the VR revolution lies in enhanced patient care. With even more potential for an immersive experience, it extends a wide area from pain management to treatment for children, mental health, and psychological therapy.

Mixed reality is another dimension transforming the healthcare industry, facilitating surgical simulation, phobia treatment, robot training, and more. MR glasses overlay digital images on a patient's body, helping the medical practitioner perform real-time analysis. Current technology is transforming rapidly, focusing on constantly evolving hardware. Here are key areas;


The driving force is the total immersion of human sensorimotor functions into a tangible, borderless communication experience. The emphasis is on a far more intuitive method of interaction.

Doctors and patients interacting virtually through VR
Doctors and patients interacting virtually through VR

The immersion extends beyond visual and auditory stimuli as VR technologies can engage an intuitive method of interaction. For instance, a user may interact within a virtual environment and undergo virtual examinations like checking vital signs or performing basic diagnostic tests.  


Patients get care from the comfort of their homes, improving waiting times, accessibility, and convenience. Consultation can be scheduled flexibly, accommodating patients' schedules and reducing waiting times.  

Greater access

Advancement in VR telehealth enables remote access to quality healthcare services. Specialists, surgeons, and clinicians from different locations can collaborate in real-time while viewing a patient’s medical records or diagnosing and discussing further treatment plans.

Optimized delivery

Virtual reality and healthcare can streamline processes and deliver services more efficiently, with faster diagnoses and improved healthcare delivery.

Enhanced surgical procedures

The success of VR is chiefly seen in its ability to train surgeons to interact with complex medical procedures. The prevalence of VR in the surgical field may forge a path toward a future where the healthcare sector may deploy AI-powered robotics to assist with complex surgeries. Finding the optimal way involves

Hands-on experiences

Surgeons can practice procedures by fine-tuning their skills and learning different techniques, ultimately enhancing the quality of training and patient outcomes.

Objective assessment

Objective assessment ensures a surgeon's skill for quality patient outcomes. A three-pronged approach allows healthcare professionals to practice procedures with real-time updates and objective feedback.

Revolutionary childcare

Augmented reality and virtual reality in healthcare focus on immersive distraction from pain; as a result, this application removes fear and anxiety. Children with autism help improve their communication skills with gamified activities that promote connection, calming techniques, and deploy situational learning.  

Improved VR experiences distract children during medical procedures. This reduces stress and enhances the surgical experience for children and their families. VR interactions lead to an enjoyable experience. Children can explore virtual anatomy, learn about their health conditions, and participate in their own decisions in a child-friendly way.

Escape and distraction

Virtual reality offers exploration and interaction of different environments as an alternative to hospital settings for children with prolonged stays. VR technology is a perfect solution offering escape and distraction from medical treatment.

Faster healing

Virtual reality in the medical field promotes immersive escape and helps patients understand their healthcare experience. VR technology is enhancing children's hospital experiences with faster healing capabilities.

VR Application Development

Virtual reality applications are utilized in different industries, including entertainment, personal training, education, and more. But healthcare application in VR needs exceptionally different emphasis on a quality understanding of,

The process of VR app development is a meticulous one, requiring a blend of creative vision and technical expertise. It involves integration specific to the platform (Meta Quest, HTC Vive, Apple Vision Pro). For content creation, Unity and Unreal Engine are the top choices, ensuring the creation of seamless VR experiences.

Designing a VR app requires a comprehensive understanding of spatial interaction and user ergonomics. Our expertise ensures an intuitive UI that is suitable for the VR environment.

Key features include

VR isn't just a technology trend but a lucrative investment with the potential to reshape industries and consumer interactions.    

Top VR in medical field highlights of 2024

Virtual reality has transformed healthcare solutions. In addition to virtual reality, mixed reality allows medical practitioners to create accurate 3D models of patient anatomy. MR leads to improved surgical outcomes. Here are some key highlights of how virtual reality is being integrated into the medical field.

Apple Vision Pro for shoulder arthroscopy

Brazilian surgeons utilized the Apple Vision Pro headset for shoulder arthroscopy surgery with its high-resolution images. The device projected high-resolution images and real-time data surgery, enabling examination with 3D models. It demonstrated real-time data streaming, surgical preparation, and instrument selection, eliminating human errors.

Placebo Effects for mental health treatment

A recent study published in JMIR Mental Health emphasizes the promising role of virtual reality for major depressive disorder (MDD) treatment. Utilizing the Meta Quest 2 headset platform, the aim was to unveil the effectiveness of extended reality (XR)— enhanced behavioral activation (XR-BA).

The participants were immersed in a variety of engaging activities within the virtual environment. These included playing a magical VR board game, deciphering clues to solve puzzles, and more.

XR-BA helped reduce the severity of depression. Moreover, it heightened the placebo response due to the technology and implicit beliefs regarding mental health treatment. XR's capability to amplify placebo effects opens transformative possibilities for technology-assisted mental health treatment.  

Stryker’s myMako mixed-reality-based medical learning

The era of conventional learning is slowly transforming into mixed reality-based learning. It has revolutionized the journey of medical learning through holographic body models. Stryker's myMako App offers first-hand immersion into the realm of medicine. It stretches the boundaries of healthcare beyond its limits.  

The VR apps extend a surgeon's experience beyond OT, i.e., a 3D program that allows surgeons to create models of what they would do in the surgery beforehand.

Non-medical field for virtual reality

Virtual reality has also revolutionized various fields, including healthcare. Its immersive experiences and innovative solutions are further expanding to a greater dimension.  

Oil refinery

Virtual reality offers several potential applications within the oil refinery industry. It contributes to enhanced safety, efficiency, training, and maintenance. The technology simulates realistic experiences for operators, technicians, and maintenance personnel. Trainees can interact with virtual equipment, practice emergency procedures, and learn to operate complex machinery in a safe and controlled environment. The technology enables engineers and operators to analyze performance, identify bottlenecks, and optimize production efficiency before implementing them in the refinery.

A realistic 1:1 VR Environment of an Oil Refinery.
A realistic 1:1 VR Environment of an Oil Refinery.

Heavy industry

VR offers significant potential by revolutionizing heavy industries, including construction, mining, and energy. VR simulations provide a hands-on training experience for workers in heavy industries. Trainees can practice operating machinery, handling equipment, and executing complex tasks that complement real-world scenarios. This reduces training costs, improves proficiency, and enhances equipment performance and longevity.

VR simulation of excavator
VR simulation of excavator


Virtual reality in healthcare makes adopting immersive, accessible, interactive, and customizable experiences possible. While it is still in the adoption stage, more healthcare organizations are turning to virtual solutions. Also, mixed reality is poised to reshape the healthcare landscape, offering innovative solutions. It revolutionizes how healthcare is delivered and experienced, leading to improved patient outcomes. VR application is expected to be a hospital mainstay, supporting patients suffering from various medical issues. As technology moves ahead, we might expect groundbreaking developments in the upcoming times.  

Frequently asked questions

What do patients experience in the virtual reality environment?

Patients placed in a virtual environment encounter real-life situations. Once they wear a VR headset, they are immersed in a 360-degree virtual world, enabling them to interact with the environment and objects. Depending on the treatment, patients may explore their fears and anxieties under a controlled environment, which helps them understand the situation comprehensively.

What are some of the top VR apps for weight loss?

VR games like Beatsaber and Shadow BoXR are my primary exercise sources. In an intense session, users may burn up to 650-700 calories in an hour workout. FitXR, a dedicated workout app, has classes where a virtual trainer provides tips, techniques, and motivation to keep going. VR for exercise has gained traction: engaging and immersive environment and content that gets users off the couch.

Does VR help patients suffering from mental disorders?

VR helps people with anorexia nervosa. One such instance is when patients got into VR, they were asked to estimate their waist size. After placing them in VR, they see an avatar of themselves that shows a healthy body weight. After the session, they were asked to estimate their waist size once more. The initial estimate would always be an overestimate of their actual waist size. But the final estimates would be close to their actual waist size. It helped break the illusion that the patient was overweight.