We in the healthcare industry have lots of concepts and ideas, and no one knows the science better than us. But, when it comes to technology we tend to lag behind the innovators. This is primarily because the patients we treat require a level of scientific rigor not needed in the fast pace of consumer technology. Despite the challenges with delivery and proof of concept to utilization, we do have the great benefit of learning from other industries using innovative technology.
This past weekend I took such an opportunity and attended the New York International Auto Show https://www.autoshowny.com/. It was really with an eye on what I could learn in VR that I decided to attend. Here a few thoughts and insights.
First of all, nearly 25% of all vendors had some level of Virtual Reality(VR) available in their display. What is most interesting about that fact is that 100% of them had the actual cars that people would be sitting in right there onsite. Some of these areas were hundreds of feet long with dozens of cars. So, with the main focus on auto innovation, why have VR at all? I believe for two main reasons. One, to draw people to their products and “booths”. VR stations would in fact draw a certain type of user. Two, to engage the user in an experience that would help them better understand the product. This could be done with a simulated car ride or an experience that conveyed the core branding messages, like fun or exhilaration.
Another interesting take away from this event is that many technologies may be moving from automobiles into the medical space. Let’s use self-parking cars as an example. The car maps out the distance between two autos, uses cameras, sensors and robotics to steer the car into a space based on a subroutine to do this. This of course seems amazing, but we accept it. How far could we be, and how much of stretch would it be to see automatic closings of incisions during surgery? Robotic guidance, mapping the space, putting staples or sutures in, based on a routine process.
More importantly, from an education standpoint we expect drivers to learn a lot just to drive one of these amazing cars in order to protect the health and safety of them and others on the road. Shouldn’t we consider education for patients to be the same? Having the road map and signs on how to care for yourself, knowing enough about your disease or condition or the medications you take so you can say, “yes, I know enough about how to drive this life so that it does not get off the tracks.”