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Virtual reality: fresh ideas for healthcare communications

Do you remember Second Life? The online 3D infrastructure launched in 2003 that allows you to move around a virtual world with avatars that represent actual people and make purchases there? I like to compare virtual reality (VR) with Second Life – but to point out the differences rather than the similarities.


For a short period of time it looked like Second Life was the “next big thing”. From the marketing communications it would seem we could no longer do without it, even when no one knew exactly what was possible and in particular what it would achieve. During this period of hype, Second Life piqued great interest and curiosity. The platform still exists, but, to put it mildly, the excitement has since wound down.

So will VR suffer the same fate? I don’t think so. The technology is seriously impressive and has piqued similar levels of curiosity. But there is longevity with VR. The potential uses are numerous and – once the currently expensive costs start to fall and it becomes more accessible for all – its use will flourish.

Pippi Longstocking as VR visionary

It is simple to explain the curiosity: who would not wish to immerse themselves in another world? Once you put on the VR headset you are “absent” from the real world and can devote yourself entirely to exploring the virtual world. That is the fascinating thing about VR. In this way, with her motive: “I make my world the way I like it” Pippi Longstocking was a kind of VR visionary. Because each VR creator can shape their world as they see fit. And each VR user moves around it entirely focussed.

virtual-reality-medical-education

So what about applying VR in healthcare? The possibilities are endless. It has already been adopted by the healthcare industry for everything from surgery simulation to phobia treatment. It is being explored for example in pain relief – virtually taking patients to a nice, pleasurable environment to distract them from the sensation of pain.

One of the greatest opportunities with VR in healthcare at the moment is medical education and training. When learning it is most important to engage yourself with a topic and concentrate on it completely. For example, at the moment we are developing an anatomical VR application with a model of the body on which it is possible to inspect particular body parts in detail, with freedom to move around as desired and of course to additionally retrieve information. There is practically no potential for distraction.

In conclusion another “internet find” I discovered by Thomas Jahn (publisher of “Journal der Netzwirtschaft”) that should elicit a smile from every marketer:

We will make processes more efficient, products more valuable and sales activities more effective. And no controller in the world will ignore these opportunities to make savings.

In this spirit: Let’s go!

This is article six of our “Digital Transformation in Marketing” series. The other five articles of the series cover the following topics: Digital Transformation, Internet-of-Things, Customer-Relationship-Management, Marketing Automation and Artificial Intelligence.

Our author Thilo Kölzer is a member of the board and responsible for Digital & Mobile, Performance Marketing and the Internet-of-Things at antwerpes ag.

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