Virtual reality has been around for more than a few decades. While it has been already adopted by the gaming industry already, the pharma industry is slowly moving towards the same. Though the use of VR in the Pharma industry is still at a very nascent stage, it may have magical effects.
Pharma companies are heavily dependent upon key tech players like Google and Microsoft for research purposes. As the amount of the data to be processed increases, virtual reality can answer massive databases in a better fashion. VR also helps in visualising this data.
Large companies these days are heavily dependent upon virtual reality solutions for drug research. They use VR in target interaction and prediction studies. Scientists use virtual reality to understand which molecule will correctly affect the disease target. With the help of VR, they not only improve the efficiency of pre-developed phases of a particular drug but it also enables them to visualise the interaction between molecules better and thus re-engineer and redesign the molecules.
Manufacturing in pharma industry requires high-level control as well as precision. For this, pharma companies use complex equipment that is difficult to operate and needs trained specialists to operate them. These complex equipment can be better explained to the operators with the help of virtual reality. Practice sessions for equipment operations also run in the virtual world to ensure there is minimal need of on the job training. Additionally, the quality of the training and operation improves significantly.
3. Diagnostics and planning
From mental illnesses like schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease to eye conditions like cataract, virtual reality is being used as a diagnostics tool for various diseases. Using it with other diagnostics method like CT scan, MRI, it enables physicians to arrive at a diagnostic faster. In some cases, it removes the need for invasive diagnostics procedure.
When it comes to planning, VR is helping surgeons in preparing for complicated surgeries. With the help of virtual reality, the surgeons get realistic images of the patient’s astronomical structure and can carry out the best suitable procedures.
4. Medical Training
Knowledge of human anatomy is the base of all medical knowledge. Traditionally, students learn about the human body through real experiences. However, often, due to limited supply, it can be difficult for budding surgeons to practice and hone their skills. Virtual reality has changed the scenario, and now it is easy for educators to transform medical education. For example, with the help of virtual reality simulation, students can better understand the relationship between muscles, nerves, organs and blood vessels in the human body.
VR solutions are helpful in treating patients suffering from anxiety disorder, panic disorder and phobia. Simulation of anxiety triggers can aid in better understanding of patients’ physical and psychological responses to that particular situation. Exposure Therapy is a boon for patients who have a phobia. It is a specialised virtual reality service that exposes the patience to its fears in a controlled environment. It helps in building a cope-up strategy. The sessions for this therapy are tailored to every patient.
The exposure therapy is also used for patients experiencing psychotic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Typically, a person suffering from this disorder gets flashbacks or nightmares about the traumatic event happened in the past. With the help of virtual reality solution, psychologists can simulate the same situation without being destructive.
VR shows much promise in rehabilitating patients with physical disabilities. Especially, if a person suffering from stroke needs physical therapy, professionals these days prefer combining traditional therapy with VR therapy to simulate real-life activities that are otherwise hard to recreate inside the clinic. Stroke patients can work on self-care skills and motor skills through virtual reality solutions powered rehabilitation sessions.
7. Product Demos
Even though using virtual reality for product demos to sales representatives is not a common practice till now, it will be a big thing soon. Big brands like Novartis recently created a VR application to show 360 degrees three-dimensional animation to show how the molecules interacted with specific body tissues. Companies also use this technology to show hypothetical animations regarding the action of their drugs. The same technology can be used to help the patients understand how the drug is going to work for them.
Doctors can also use virtual reality solutions to help their patients understand how a particular operation is going to be performed. This may aid in relaxing the patients and their relatives.
8. Engage stakeholders
These days, the attention span is decreasing as the source of information have increased. Along with that, the stakeholders have also become more alert, and they want to have a deeper understanding of the patient’s problems. British pharma giant GSK recently builds an AR-based migraine experience tool to help the stakeholders understand how exactly it feels and how the medicines will aid in comforting the patient. Similarly, a company can use virtual reality to help their stakeholders understand all about their upcoming products.
While virtual reality solutions are now being used in pharma sector successfully, there’s still a lot of scopes to start using them. It is not only cost-effective but also becoming increasingly easy and easily accessible. Virtual reality solutions have stood the taste of time and proven it is not just a fad. Only time will decide if it will be the next reality of the pharmaceutical industry.