How VR Helps Patients Consent to Treatment Plans


Even after years of training, practice, and experience, surgery is tense for the experts performing it. And for the patients going through it? It can be downright terrifying. And that’s assuming a patient knows and fully understands why the procedure is needed and what will happen when it’s performed, a luxury many patients do not have.

While many people need surgery for a variety of reasons, there are just as many reasons why a patient might opt out of a procedure during the consultation. They may be afraid of complications the surgery may cause, or of the surgery itself. They might lack confidence in the surgeon’s recommendations. Or, they might not believe it’s necessary to their health or survival. This can be particularly true in the digital age, when so much information is at our fingertips, and it can become difficult to to parse out what is true and what is not.

And, of course, some patients simply don’t want to go through it. Successful surgeries are vital to a successful hospital, and vital to the health and well-being of the patients being consulted. Keeping this in mind, virtual reality (VR) can help patients understand their conditions and consent to recommended treatment plans more confidently. How?

See Problems Up Close and Personal

Accurate DICOM data scanned into fully-explorable VR environments will allow patients to actually see the issues being discussed. It will give them a detailed (and sometimes unsettling) look into issues within their bodies, like lesions, tumors, and other irregularities with clarity and detail.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Gain Understanding of Their Own Anatomy

Patients will be able to see, first-hand, in-depth scans of their own bodies and the state they’re in. Seeing with their own eyes what is  causing them discomfort, pain, and diminished ability helps them more clearly comprehend the seriousness of their condition.

Patients also get the opportunity to understand a comparison between normal functioning and their current condition, underscoring exactly why a procedure may be necessary. The same goes for parents, guardians, and other family members who can influence surgery decisions when the patient is unable to. They have an even more abstract concept of the problem since it isn’t happening to them, which is what makes VR a valuable tool to illuminate the problem for them.

See Doctor’s Expertise in Real-time

When a patient’s doctor leads them through their consultation and is able to explain their situation with clearly visible evidence, confidence and trust in the doctor increases. It needn’t be pointed out that trust is one of the greatest predictors of consent to operations. A patient will always be far more willing to listen to the advice of a medical professional that they trust.

Photo by  Ke  n   Treloar  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

Be Included as Part of the Plan

People tend to be contrary if they believe they are being forced into something. When told what to do, they will often resist, even if what they are being told to do is for their own good. Even if it may save their lives.

However, when people are asked what they think, and are shown evidence and logical conclusions of a situation, they are generally much more receptive to the recommendations of an expert, and far more willing to give consent. VR enables patients to come to their own conclusions and make their own informed decisions, with gentle guidance by the consulting surgeon.

Able to Give Informed Consent

Of course, another reliable facet of human nature is fear of the unknown. If someone doesn’t understand what is going to happen to them or why, they can refuse to move forward almost reflexively. By helping patients know and understand what they need to do and why, surgeons can remove the fear and gained informed consent.

Share Knowledge For Everyone’s Benefit

With the greater fidelity into issues and higher level of involvement and understanding on the part of the patient and family, hospitals everywhere can get more and better consent to treatment plans and surgeries. This will increase production and help patients achieve better health, while also leaving them more satisfied.