[News Articles On Technology] Dutch VR Company Brings the Playground to Hospital Beds

Illena Yu
July 9, 2019

***This article is a story curated by SparkAmpLab that can be shared or modified for re-post***

VR is transforming medical care in many ways. Surgeons can now use VR headsets to virtually tour and inspect patients, whether it is in a hard to study area of the brain, or in the virtual bodies of conjoined twins, before undertaking complicated surgical procedures. 

In the case of MedKitVR, young patients can wear VR glasses to go and play outside in a virtual playground. In this playground, children can enjoy themselves rolling, running and climbing with friends, family or other patients. And while they are distracted in their virtual world, medical staff can proceed with procedures that might be unpleasant or painful. Research has shown that playing outside has many health benefits

MedKitVR was founded by Jason van Eunen and Freek Teunen who both have previous experience in the field of VR. Teunen was involved in creating a VR experience for disabled visitors at the Dutch theme park Efteling and Van Eunen researched how to use VR in the construction industry for his graduation project. The company currently offers four VR apps.

Fragmented VR market in healthcare

VR implementation in hospitals is problematic, say the founders. Companies have to comply with hygiene regulations, staff need to be trained and you need to have the right apps. In testing their Playground VR solutions at several hospitals in the Netherlands, Van Eunen and Teunen have come up against some of these difficulties.

“We saw that not only the content was important for virtual reality, but also the implementation in hospitals. If the implementation is not done well, people won’t use it. [We found] headsets lying around everywhere,” Van Eunen told SparkAmpLab during an interview at InnoVEX. This happens because there are many different VR companies all trying to enter the healthcare market.

MedKitVR Co-founders Jason van Eunen and Freek Teunen

“The healthcare market for VR is fragmented because a lot of developers are creating healthcare related applications,” explains Teunen. Some are working on phobias, others on the reduction of fear, and still others on distraction therapy. 

“However, they are all working alone. So they are giving VR goggles again to the healthcare professionals, so they got stuck with all kinds of hardware [and] with software for a single purpose, which is not very helpful for any of us.”

A full-service solution 

These challenges have brought MedKitVR to the decision to provide a full-service solution. So they fully support hospitals with implementing virtual reality, by providing VR headsets, cleaning equipment, a cabinet for the storage of VR headsets, and training to make sure everyone can use the technology to its full potential. 

Anxiety reduction through virtual orientation

MedKitVR has also found a novel way to make patients fear hospital visits less. Through the company’s MatterCare app, anxiety and uncertainty among new patients are reduced by having them visit a healthcare department in advance virtually and interactively. This virtual experience gives patients more confidence; both before and during the first hospital visit. 

Another app the company has on offer is one about training. The app provides a virtual environment where hospital staff can develop and improve their skills, for instance, they can get training on how to do CPR skillfully.

Future plans

According to MedKitVR, the company and its developers have many more apps in the pipeline. MedKitVR also has its own team of software developers working on apps for use in hospitals.

The company has experienced a warm welcome at InnoVEX and found that the Taiwanese public is very open to VR. The company is actively investigating possible partnerships in Taiwan and has already visited a number of hospitals to explore possible collaborations.

Through its full-service VR solution, MedKitVR will not only make a stay in a hospital easier, but it will also ease the implementation of VR in hospitals.

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