We Explain Everything You Need to Know About VR in Healthcare Training

Learn how organizations use VR healthcare training to improve patient care and outcomes.

We often hear people say, “VR will revolutionize healthcare training.” 

But here’s the thing… it already is. Many top healthcare organizations already use VR training to upskill employees and improve patient outcomes. And the results are incredible: better training performance, faster learning, and more confidence in applying skills.

Even world governments are getting on board. The EU is co-funding a €2 million project to promote VR in healthcare training. And this isn’t surprising. VR offers one of the quickest ways to address the longstanding issue of global healthcare shortage by expediting professional training. 

So, what exactly is VR healthcare training? And how can you integrate it into your healthcare organization? These are the questions we’ll be tackling in this ArborXR guide.

What Is VR Healthcare Training?

VR healthcare training involves using virtual reality headsets and gadgets to train health professionals.

Here’s how it works: 

VR headsets immerse healthcare trainees in 3D environments that replicate real-world scenarios. This allows them to practice procedures and techniques in a safe and controlled setting. Trainees can repeat these exercises as often as needed until they’ve mastered them. This leads to reduced time to proficiency and higher confidence.

As we mentioned earlier, several healthcare organizations have already integrated VR into their training processes in some interesting ways. Let’s quickly review a few of the most promising to get you inspired.

Surgical Training

VR surgery training lets surgeons practice complex procedures, better understand patient anatomy, and improve their surgical precision in a safe, virtual environment. This is already happening at organizations like George Washington University.

Nursing Training

Robert Morris University is one of the many organizations using VR to enhance nursing training. It trains nurses on procedures like catheter insertion in realistic virtual settings that don’t put patients at risk.

Learn more about nurse training in healthcare, in this interview with Devin Marble from VRPatients:

Soft Skills Training

VR isn’t just for technical skills—you can also use it to nurture your trainee’s soft skills.

At Stanford Children’s Hospital, doctors use VR to practice delivering difficult news to families of sick children. This immersive training helps develop empathy and prepares healthcare providers for emotionally charged conversations.

Benefits of VR in Healthcare Training

It Enhances Performance

VR training allows healthcare professionals to practice procedures in a realistic, hands-on way. Studies show that this approach can dramatically improve healthcare training. 

For example, a Harvard Business Review study found surgeons trained with VR performed 230% better than those trained with traditional methods. They were also 20% faster and significantly more accurate.

It’s Cost-Effective and Efficient

Traditional training can be expensive and time-consuming. VR offers a cost-effective and faster alternative. 

The Icahn School of Medicine reports VR training is 83% less expensive than traditional training, while also cutting training time in half. This frees up valuable resources and gets new professionals on the job faster.

It’s Safer for Everyone

Finally, VR healthcare training is much safer than traditional training.

Healthcare organizations take on a lot of risk when they allow untested professionals to train on actual patients. With VR, these risky scenarios can be replicated in a controlled environment. Plus, quantitative training data makes it easier to assess the readiness of new professionals confidently.

How to Implement Virtual Reality in Healthcare Training

1. Conduct a Needs Assessment

Before implementing VR, it is important to identify your organization’s specific training needs. Identifying your needs helps you prioritize training areas and allocate your VR budget effectively. You wouldn’t want to invest in a VR program for a skill your team already excels at, right?

So, be sure to consult relevant stakeholders. Engage with healthcare professionals, educators, and administrators to understand their perspectives on current training gaps and areas that could benefit from VR. 

2. Develop a Strategic Plan

Once you’ve identified your training needs, create a strategic plan that outlines the goals, scope, and timeline for implementing VR in your healthcare training program. 

This plan should include:

  • Budgeting: How much are you willing to invest in VR hardware, software, content development, and ongoing maintenance? Ensure that the budget is affordable while still being realistic.
  • Technology Selection: Find VR technology that aligns with your training objectives. This includes choosing VR headsets, haptic feedback devices, hand controllers, tracking devices, and compatible software platforms.
  • Content Development: Decide whether you will develop custom VR content (either in-house or by partnering with developers) or purchase existing training modules from specialized VR content providers. In either case, our enterprise XR developer directory has tons of reliable developers and ISVs that you can contact to get started. 

3. Assemble a Team

Successful VR implementation requires a multidisciplinary team. Assemble a team that includes:

  • Project Manager: To oversee the implementation process and ensure milestones are met.
  • Technical Experts: To handle the setup, integration, and maintenance of VR hardware and software. They’ll also help your educators learn how to use the VR tech. 
  • Healthcare Educators: To train employees and provide input on the content, ensuring that it achieves key learning objectives.
  • VR Developers (optional): To create training content (if you’ve opted not to buy off-the-shelf content from an ISV).

4. Pilot Test the Solution

Before rolling out the VR training program on a large scale, conduct a pilot test with a few devices and trainees to evaluate its effectiveness and identify any issues. 

Start by choosing a representative group of 10–20 trainees. Make sure that the group includes varying levels of experience to gauge the program’s effectiveness holistically. For example, if the training is focused on surgery, it should include a mix of residents, fellows, and medical students.

Next, run through the full training program with the pilot group. Along that way, be careful to monitor:

  • Performance data: Did trainees improve? By how much? 
  • Feedback data: Ask trainees for their thoughts. What did they like? Dislike? Did they find it helpful?
  • Operational data: Were there any technical issues or hiccups? Did the devices function properly? Were trainers able to understand the tech?

Then, periodically gather quantitative and qualitative data on the trainees’ performance for 2–3 months after the training. Specifically, look into retention and compare post-training improvements to pre-training performance data. This lets you know how well your training program is getting the mark. 

5. Full-Scale Implementation

After a successful pilot test, you can move on to full-scale implementation. 

This may involve scaling your VR ecosystem from a few devices to hundreds (or even thousands). If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest in a mobile device management (MDM) platform to handle content deployment, device management, and so on.

But we advise that you start thinking about an MDM right from your pilot stage (no matter how little the devices you’ll be working with).

ArborXR is a dedicated XR MDM platform designed to scale with your organization’s needs.

Our platform lets you remotely manage all your VR (and AR) devices from a single web portal. You can shut them down, reboot them, install training content at scale, and control what content each trainee consumes. Whether you’re managing hundreds or thousands of devices, we make the process simple and efficient.

6. Continuous Improvement

Your healthcare VR training rollout doesn’t end after the full-scale deployment. You need to keep improving it so that it stays up-to-date and effective.

Most importantly, you need to update the content regularly. Constantly review and update the VR training content to reflect the latest medical practices, guidelines, and advancements. With ArborXR, you can easily install content updates to thousands of devices at once without breaking a sweat.

VR in Healthcare Training: A True Game-Changer

VR in healthcare training is a big leap forward in medical education. It offers a safer, more effective, and more immersive way to train healthcare professionals. 

Keep in mind that if you want to scale up your deployment, you’ll need an MDM platform that’s able to handle VR devices. That’s where ArborXR comes in. We give you full control over headsets and the trainee experience with an easy-to-use interface and powerful settings.

Ready to empower and elevate your healthcare? Experience an MDM designed for XR– sign up for our 30-day free trial.

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