We believe that effective medical education of the future will require brands to offer deeply immersive, immediate, and experiential content. This is due in no small part to the flurry of recent technological advancements that are literally transforming how customers are engaging with brands. These extraordinary new formats, devices, and enhancements to the digital screens HCPs are utilizing every day are suddenly more immersive and immediate and redefining how information is experienced.
Today, brands can communicate medical information through entirely new platforms, including virtual reality, augmented/mixed reality, 360° video, voice-assisted devices, and proximity engagement. New devices are bombarding the market every day from the biggest names in tech (Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Sony, and more), and these tools are becoming even more affordable and untethered, and they’re helping us change how we control our worlds. It’s a paradigm shift similar to the smartphone and tablet revolution of the early 2010s.
In healthcare, this growing trend is far more momentous than just technology for technology’s sake—these new solutions are poised to directly impact patient care and enrich medical understanding. We are discovering that the more believably we can transport someone to something that feels real, the more memorable the education and that emotional connection will be. These hyper-real platforms enable medical storytelling experts to create content that heightens peer and patient interaction, provides for deeper immersion into scientific content, and depicts a more meaningful simulation of the patient's plight.
We are already seeing this new technology directly improving patient outcomes as a trailblazing team at Cedars Sinai is leveraging virtual reality for therapeutic intervention to address pain needs and other chronic issues. Dr. Brennen Spiegel and his team are leading this approach by virtually transporting patients out of what they term the “bio-social jail cell” that is the traditional hospital bed and virtually taking them to fantastical new destinations like Icelandic glaciers and summits, Hawaiian beaches, or a Cirque du Soleil performance. Patients are even being transported to their own living rooms with their loved ones—replicating the experience of being with family through take-home virtual reality kits. This pioneering technology is providing true clinical benefit, with results demonstrating that virtual reality can reduce pain scores within 10 minutes of use while being utilized as a drug-free adjuvant to opioids.
When considering these powerful platforms specifically for medical education, we think the opportunities present themselves in a number of ways worth exploring. Some concepts our agency is considering include:
- Mixed reality program experiences where the event could deliver interstitial holograms, animations, or virtual peers using tools like HoloLens or Vuzix goggles
- Content experiences specifically designed for voice-assisted delivery, with novel development around this unique audio-only user experience (statistics show that 23% of healthcare providers are already using these tools in their practices)
- Reality roundtables where a consortium of clinical experts can be filmed in a 360° setting for an exploratory virtual reality experience
- Leveraging proximity engagement using beacon technology to deliver support materials at the point of care or activating booth traffic for a congress event
- Incorporation of augmented reality for interactive print pieces across routine support materials (eg, workbooks, posters, handouts) to bring those static images to life with more immersive visual communication
We view these new platforms as truly transformative in their ability to better engage audiences, create more memorable experiences that cement learning, and ultimately deliver better outcomes for patient care.