Dr. Brennan Spiegel, who leads health services research, with a focus on digital medicine, explained how virtual reality is already starting to improve patient care. Spiegel demonstrated that while Cedars offers private rooms, patients still suffer physically, emotionally, and socially. He suggested that the experience of being a patient in the hospital room is not healing in itself, but perhaps even detrimental to health. Spiegel suggested that tests have shown applications of virtual reality to be therapeutic. With virtual reality, Spiegel said, we can transform our patients to vacations, performances, even “swimming with blue whales or taking helicopter rides over Iceland.” This relaxes the patient, helps them to have fun and relieve stress during their stay. Spiegel pointed to tests that have demonstrated that pain can go down after VR. Dr. Spiegel closed by saying that if we can shave the length of stay by just a small percentage, the technology and treatment should pay for itself.
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