Virtual reality is continuing to show success as a therapeutic method, an outcome that is increasingly attracting health organizations and digital health startups to the healthcare space.
Virtual reality therapy is a catch-all term describing the use of a virtual headset as a tool for psychological or occupational therapy. The primary aim is to allow patients to navigate through digitally created environments, which medical professionals have reviewed, and to complete a series of specially designed tasks.
One popular example of the application of the technology is an alternative form of exposure therapy; here a patient interacts with harmless virtual representations of some traumatic stimuli, with the aim of reducing fear responses. A second example is with the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
There are other medical applications, such as with aiding stroke patients to regain muscle control or to improve social skills in those diagnosed with autism. These examples illustrated how scientists have used virtual reality therapies for cognitive therapies and structural desensitization of patients suffering from a variety of psychological disorders.
Therapists in Singapore have also undertaken studies that show virtual reality can be used to address computer gaming and internet addition. Publishing in the journal Technology and Healthcare, researchers described how virtual reality therapy can be combined with more traditional cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients.
Care needs to be taken, however, not overstate the case of virtual reality therapy. As Brighton and Suxxes Medical School researchers recently wrote: “Outcomes may overstate the impact of virtual reality therapy and technological novelty, while not fully unpacking hidden digital effects. A wide set of agreed, flexible, and patient-centered outcome measures are required to establish positive clinical baseline.” This position indicates that virtual reality therapy remains an emerging digital health technology.
For a decade or so, virtual reality has been confined to the more expensive side of healthcare but more affordable mobile virtual reality headsets such as Samsung Gear is taking VR more mainstream. With cheaper access to physical hardware there are more opportunities to apply telemedicine and decentralize mental health treatment by allowing medical professionals to reach patients anywhere in the world, virtually.
This has also opened the door for several startups to invest in virtual reality therapy treatments.
Spanish startup Psious has developed an exposure therapy tool to address phobias, allowing psychologists to create the right environment for exposure therapy while at the same time permitting therapists to obtain a real-time look at what their patient sees. Through this approach the therapist can adjust the experience as needed.
A Swiss startup called MindMaze is working on a virtual reality program for paralysis patients. The company intends to simulate functional body parts for people with paralyzed limbs. This idea is more complex and is supported by some psychologists, but not by others.
Finally, Seattle startup Firsthand Technology is assessing how VR can be used to treat pain. The company’s pain relief application called SnowWorld is designed to help patience recovering in hospital burn wards explore a world of snow men and forget about pain.
How digital collaboration lets humans be human
By: Sowri Krishnan
Many of us have grown up on a healthy diet of R2-D2, Skynet, Autobots, JARVIS and the Matrix. What was a mere notion – artificial intelligence, bots and algorithms coexisting with and influencing our lives – has now become integral to what we do, both personally and professionally. AI is disrupting the very core of how we interact, both with our fellow humans and with technology.
The impact on our professional lives is particularly significant. Advancements in digital technology are no longer just about bottom-line improvements or creating the next Uber; they’re about identifying ways to enhance our uniquely human capabilities through digital enablement. The result: more meaningful interactions and transactions in our work lives.
By collaborating with the new machines, we can become better at “being human” in how we perform our work, whether we’re caregivers, lawyers, bankers or customer service reps. When we let digital technologies do what they do best – and enable humans to focus on what they do best – we can impact the business much more dramatically than either could accomplish on its own.
Collaborating Where It Counts
We’re seeing this at Narayana Health, an India-based hospital network that we’re partnering with to improve its post-operative care for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).
In a typical ICU, medical practitioners and caregivers endeavor to administer precise, rapid care, even while they rely on heavily manual documentation processes. Everything from patient progress and vital stats, to lab work and medication dosages is recorded and stored on reams of paper. Even small margins of human error could negatively impact the quality of patient care and outcomes, such as delayed diagnosis, medication errors and faulty patient histories. In the U.S. alone, medical error is the third-leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.
Narayana Health sought to enable nursing staff to focus on the work of caregiving by applying digital to process efficiencies and elimination of human error in the ICU. The goal: improve outcomes even while treating more patients by freeing up the resources needed to provide care.
A Human-Centered Approach
Just as we aimed to use digital technology to emphasize the human capabilities of Narayana’s medical staff, we also took a human-centered approach to formulating a solution:
- We embedded a research team into Narayana’s ICU in Bangalore for six months to observe daily interactions among caregivers and patients.
- Our team then determined how staffing levels, time of day, severity of cases and patient load affected the ability to effectively manage patient care.
- We produced multiple prototypes, directly on an iPad, at the point of care, to elicit feedback from the ICU staff.
- We conducted several studies to identify different caregiver personas, in terms of their interaction with patients, hospital devices and systems.
Using this human-centered approach, we developed a technical architecture to standardize, digitize and automate clinical processes. The solution integrated the ICU ecosystem of data sources, including information from medical devices and existing hospital systems. It also enabled tailored alerts and indicators related to patient state. Because the system could churn through data much more quickly and effectively, it reduced dependence on the vigilance of medical staff, who could focus on patient care.
The Benefits of Collaboration
The project generated two simultaneous benefits:
- First, it brought a degree of automation at the point-of-care, resulting in greater operational efficiencies for nurses.
- Second, it introduced standardization through protocol-driven care. This reduced the need for human oversight over standard processes by 80%, and increased nursing efficiency by 45%. Nurses were freed to provide better care to patients, and ICU stays were reduced by 15%.
At the end of the day, it’s exciting to watch the developing capabilities of digital technologies. However, it’s far more rewarding to see what humans and the new machines can accomplish when they work together.
This article originally appeared on the Digitally Cognizant Blog
Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) is dedicated to helping the world’s leading companies build stronger businesses — helping them go from doing digital to being digital.
Here’s the thing about how digital transformation will impact your business
Here’s the thing about digital transformation: Everyone knows it’s happening.
But it’s hard to know which new technology or innovation is going to be the one that upends your industry, opens up massive opportunity, threatens your company, or forever alters your role.
Today we’re introducing a new, custom-tailored service to help you figure that out. The service combines journalism, research and market analysis to help you and your team understand the state of digital transformation (DX) and explore the key developments that will impact your employees and industry.
We call this our “Here’s the thing about…” service. Teaming up with the DX Journal, we leverage journalists, analysts, researchers and strategists to help your company get a full picture of:
- What is likely to impact your industry
- Your team’s readiness to deal with it
- An in-depth look at major developments you need to pay attention to
Here’s how it works:
This service is designed to give perspective on how digital transformation will impact your company. We present our findings in an easy-to-understand format breaking down trends for multiple departments and for every skill set with documented takeaways and action items.
We uncover and share those findings in a simple, two-step process:
Step 1: Research & interview process
- Custom research on digital transformation trends impacting your industry, customers, and competitors.
- One-on-one interviews with your company’s executives, department heads or managers, employees and/or customers.
Step 2: Research presentation
- A presentation to your company in an internal keynote-style presentation to any size group — be it a small strategy team or an all-hands employee seminar.
- Our team of researchers, journalists and analysts will share the research findings, key trends in your industry and provide an overview of how well you’re set up to address challenges or embrace opportunities based on the employee interviews.
Who this service is for:
Let’s start by clarifying that digital transformation is not just an IT problem. Our clients are often leaders who are not technologists. In fact, many companies we speak with are surprised to learn how many areas of the business are impacted by DX, including marketing, HR, IT, sales, operations, legal, and others.
There’s no escaping that every area of a business is going to have to manage change that digital transformation brings. Digital transformation should not be left for the IT department alone to figure out.
With that in mind, we’ve designed this report and presentation service most commonly for executives and managers in:
- Operations, finance & strategy
- Human resource departments
- Marketing and sales departments
- IT departments
Sure, you might not have to deal with artificial intelligence in your accounting department tomorrow. Or chatbots in your HR department. Or big data solutions for your manufacturing warehouse. But how can you be sure if you don’t understand these emerging technologies? What if your competitors are? And what if they’re getting a 6-month head start?
To get started, please contact the DX Institute.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
5 ways to improve supply chains with digital transformation
Keeping supply chains in control and competitive is a key for any company sending physical products nationally or internationally.
In a competitive market, supply chain managers seek to create net value, build a competitive infrastructure, utilize available worldwide logistics and try to meet supply with demand.
Digital technology presents efficiencies and costs reductions to maintain a competitive edge. Here are 5 key benefits for those who manage supply chains.
Digital Transformation of Supply Chains
- Big data together with advanced analytics provide insights and improve decision making. Every point of data is an interaction that builds a company’s understand in of their customers, suppliers and vendors. Supply Chain Drive uses the examples of “an item is picked off a shelf, a customer leaving a website, an online review is written, a damaged product is returned.”If parts of the supply chain network are willing to share this information digitally, then useful material can be built up, as discussed in this article published in the International Journal of Production Economics.Collected information can also be integrated into optimization tools and used for activities like demand forecasting, integrated business planning and supplier collaboration and risk analytics.
- Sophisticated sensors track and collect information, provide safeguards for goods and protect against counterfeiting among other things in supply chains. This is a hot topic in the pharmaceutical world where up to 20 percent of distributed medicines may be fake — digital supply chains can help identify fraudulent shipments. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently produced new guidance on this subject for medicines manufacturers, as Pharmaceutical Microbiology has reported.
- Customer engagement: The selection of the right piece of software to enable customer engagement is key to achieving “retention, lower operating costs, increased sales and faster growth,” according to this recent article in Software Advice.Software must be mobile first. As the European Commission points out mobility is seen as a disruptive technology for business and it allows new ways of working in “an ATAWAD (Anytime Anywhere Any Device) environment.” Examples systems include Darius, which collects customer feedback, analyzes it and sends reports, and Ambrosus, which has put in place a blockchain-based ecosystem for the supply chain.
- Cloud technology solutions for the supply chain can provide business process gains and works best when a large number of suppliers and customers agree to share data over a cloud.According to an article in Forbes, companies that use an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to communicate throughout their supply chain are more efficient than those reliant upon emails, faxes and phone calls. Through an EDI two different companies can electronically exchange documents (such as purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, and many others). Once the supply network is connected via a cloud then analytics, cognitive equipment and smart apps can aid decision making.
- AI and cognitive computing will provide significant advantages to those organizations that embrace them. AI will enable organizations to shift through large amounts of structured or unstructured data; assess detailed supplier assessments of a single supplier or a group of suppliers; and for assessing and calculating risk. There are also potential gains to be made from using artificial intelligence to find new ways of operating, to provide new insights, and to uncover new opportunities. Companies like IBM are developing cognitive computing systems to support supply chains.
These five examples show how technology can help, now or in the near future, to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. The adoption of such technology needs to fit in with a clear business strategy. With a clear direction in place, the promises that digitalization of the supply chain promises are considerable.
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