We have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Asher Marks over many months on a pilot program that provides Virtual Reality (VR) support groups to patients in the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology clinic at Yale New Haven Hospital.
With the pilot nearing its end, Dr. Marks has published an article highlighting the role of VR in telepsychiatry including the specific benefits of VR support groups. Below are some key takeaways:
Telephone and video conferencing fall short when it comes to "sharing a therapeutic physical space, being able to communicate via non-verbal cues, and being able to interact without distraction,"
Of all immersive technologies, VR is the most "mature, available, and studied."
Availability of consumer ready headsets over the past year "has greatly expanded VR’s potential to be incorporated into telehealth and telepsychiatry."
Early hurdles to leveraging VR included ensuring physical and emotional safety, infection control measures, and the ability to collaborate with rapid tech industry timelines.
Initial findings of the pilot program are "very encouraging."
After this pilot has concluded, "the intention is to move forward with a larger, multi-institutional Phase 2 trial assessing risks and benefits of VR based support groups as compared to other viable solutions to the remote care problem."
Though the population for this pilot was younger and therefore more comfortable with new technologies, another pilot showed the viability VR support groups for older patients dealing with grief.
Read the full article here.
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