Virtual reality and the patient experience

From surgical simulations to a tool that helps those who suffer from PTSD, virtual reality is taking on the health care industry by storm. Carrie Shaw of Embodied Labs joins Hari Sreenivasan via Google Hangout to discuss her lab, which is at the forefront of this work.


From surgical simulations to a tool that helps those who suffer from PTSD virtual reality is takin on the healthcar industry by storm.

Joining me now via Google Hangout is Carrie Sha of Embodied Labs whose lab is at the forefront of this work.

Carrie, you know, we've seen some example of how PTSD sufferers, maybe even if it's fea of heights lots of different case where virtual realit has helped them get into an unfriendly situatio but in a nice, controlled atmosphere.

And you're doing something a little different It's V.R. It's not a game.

But it's almost like an empathy app So explain wha you've got going on.

Sure, yeah.

So I was inspire to start this company, Embodied Labs, after I had some experienc as a caregiver for my mom, who had early onse Alzheimer's disease.

And part of my time workin with her was to train her caregiver that came to help he around the house in what her disease meant.

And that was the first tim I really asked myself, 'You know, what if we coul just ste into a patient's world And if we could do that, how would that make us better caregivers?

And so that's somethin that I pursued eventually, when I returned to graduat school for medical illustration.

And it becam my thesis research I said, 'You know, we can visualize what the heart looks like, what small protein interactions look like at a microscopic level so why can't we apply medica illustration to show through the patient's eyes disease states and the patient experience?'

So what we really do is us the power of virtual reality to transport healthcare providers in trainin to their patients' worlds.

And they can immerse themselve in the patient's perspective

So there was one app that was almost kind of making me pretend like I was a 70-something-year-ol with macular degeneration.

And I'd never even thought about what it would look like to have that.

But this i what they live through And here we are, all interacting with them.


So macular degeneratio and high-frequency hearing los are the two most commo audiovisual disabilities in Americans that are over 65.

And so what we wanted to d with this, the Alfred Lab, is create an experienc where trainees could embod the 74-year-old man, into Alfred, and not only experienc these audiovisual disabilities but really get to know Alfred's story and immerse themselves you know, at his kitchen table with his family, on the way to the doctor with his son and while he's actuall in the doctor's office trying to interact wit the healthcare professional.

And this has given the trainee this whole new insight into how they might look at communicating with patients going forward in their careers

That's what I was wondering whether it's a caregiver or a doctor or even mayb even a relative watching or experiencing these videos But what do you see?

What happens to them after they take the goggles off?

What's their first kind of reaction

I think the initial reactio is always just surpris at how much they fel frustrated or felt isolate or realized, had insight into thing that they hadn't realize before going through the application.

And so another thing - it kind of depends on who's using the app So when it's a medical student they say, 'Oh, wow You know, I really need to think about how audiovisual change could affect the way I'm diagnosing patients.

Maybe they have a disability that is audiovisual, and I can mistake that for cognitive impairment.'

I've also had learners as youn as middle school go through it and just have this insight 'Oh, wow. They're -- you know, people are going through lif experience different than my own, which is really a deep insight for someon that might be only 12 years old.

And then we have learner all the way in their 70s go through it that have some of these conditions and can say, 'Wow, I feel like my story's being told And this is somethin that I can use to share with my famil to help them understan my experience better.'

So, what's next Your best-case scenari a few years from now - What do you hope happens And what kinds of applications or what kinds of V.R films are you working on

Yeah, we're working on a suite of embodied patient experience lab and really tacklin the geriatrics education space right now.

And so over the next year, we're going to build out a suite focused on that.

And then, really what we want to do is expand to look at all different perspectives of vulnerable patient populations.

So that could be childre with learning disabilities That could be wome and minorities with specific issues to that or something like the issues of autism, for example.

So the beauty of virtual reality is that it's the only medium that can really transport yo into another world that you'd otherwise b unable to experience

Carrie Shaw C.E.O. of Embodied Labs, thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me.