The State of Virtual Reality Training in Healthcare
Key Findings Revealed for Survey of 400 Healthcare and Social Assistance Professionals Across the US in 2023
Articles | Healthcare | Use Case | Training/Simulation
6 min read
Extended reality (VR/MR) training is becoming more common across various industries , thanks to its unique combination of realism and ability to simulate everything from detailed mechanical tasks to empathy-building exercises. One field that has seen a particularly outsized impact from the growing adoption of virtual reality training is healthcare, where it is already helping workers become better prepared for their essential work in less time and is helping executives deliver improved results with fewer resources.
To learn more about the current role and common perceptions of virtual reality training in healthcare, we conducted a survey of healthcare and social assistance professionals throughout the US. The headline result? A staggering 91.24% of respondents believe that VR enhances education plans and empowers coordinators to be more effective in their roles.
- For healthcare organizations that have already adopted VR training, 84% of respondents involved with the VR purchase process say they “like” or “love” the VR training deployments they’ve already approved.
- 85.79% of respondents whose organizations have not yet adopted VR training believe they will do so by 2026 at the latest.
Meanwhile, the benefits of VR training in a healthcare setting extend far beyond executive decision-makers to every level of the business. More than four in five respondents believed that investment in VR made their facility attractive to top-tier talent, and more than four in five also believed that the investment made their facility more appealing to patients.
Furthermore, the results of our survey indicate that virtual reality training in a healthcare setting:
- Removes bottlenecks associated with traditional training techniques.
- Reduces the need to divert expensive equipment and supplies away from patient use in order to familiarize staff with their use.
- Is easy to set up and integrate into existing training programs.
Before we get further into the specifics of the survey results, here’s how we arrived at our data.
We conducted a survey of 400 healthcare and social assistance professionals throughout the US in March 2023. The survey targeted training and development leaders, purchasers, and key decision-makers throughout the industry with an aim toward understanding current VR training adoption levels, the level of success professionals have seen with such programs so far, and where healthcare training may be headed next.
The survey began with one screening question to ensure relevant audiences were selected, then opened into a mix of 16 single-select and multi-select questions gauging participants’ previous experiences and upcoming expectations of VR healthcare training. The polling processes and data analysis used to present this report mean its statistical results come with 95% confidence and a 5% margin of error.
The Current Role of VR in Healthcare Training
The majority of respondents (57%) said VR had played a “key part” in their professional training. There was also a clear throughline in the specific purposes served by VR training within organizations that have already implemented it:
- 68.04% of respondents’ organizations use VR to teach hard skills , such as how to use specific types of equipment or carry out new procedures.
- 50.52% of respondents noted using VR for patient education .
- 46.39% of respondents said training in soft skills (AKA “bedside manner,” better communication and coordination with coworkers, and so on) followed at 50.52% and 46.39%, respectively.
The adaptable nature of VR means facilities can use it to fit their needs through multiple types of experiences. Full VR immerses participants in a totally virtual setting to allow any type of training environment with sufficient space to function as a digital double of medical facilities, while augmented reality programs capitalize on a participant’s physical presence in a space to bring even greater realism to certain tasks. Respondents were evenly split on their usage of these particular forms: 24.86% used only VR training, 27.57% used only AR training, and 30.81% used a mix of the two.
Recent VR Adopters Cite Increasing Logistical Demands
While VR’s place in healthcare training is becoming more common across the board, the compounding challenges related to traditional training models that have spurred organizations to further invest in VR training have shifted over time.
For respondents whose organizations first introduced VR as a training solution five or more years ago , the most frequently cited barriers to traditional training programs were:
- Lack of practice time at 59.57%.
- Time commitment at 57.45%
- Training costs related to tools and consumable resources at 27.66%.
Respondents whose organizations had adopted VR within the past year listed similar concerns overall, with one telling difference:
- Lack of practice time at 58.87%.
- Time commitment at 57.45%.
- Training costs related to tools and consumable resources at 59.68%.
Traditional healthcare training models are becoming ever more cumbersome and demanding to support. With
pandemic-driven supply chain issues
driving up prices for medical supplies across the board, healthcare facilities cannot afford to direct as many of these supplies toward employee education as they could in the past. The growing adoption of VR training means healthcare employees can become familiar with the use of increasingly expensive and essential resources while genuine articles remain conserved for providing care to patients.
Where Healthcare Training Is Headed Next
The need for healthcare is only growing as the population expands, and especially as the aging population grows ; the increasing number of elderly patients entering healthcare systems means special care must be taken to meet their unique needs. Unfortunately, the pandemic proved that previous approaches to supporting healthcare staff are too easily strained. Workers need more material support, faster — and that isn’t going to change any time soon.
Respondents to the survey struck a similar tone, with 61.25% citing trainer limitations as the biggest problem with traditional training methods. Since it isn’t feasible to immediately scale up the number of experienced, professional medical trainers to meet increased demand, healthcare organizations must pursue other solutions. Fortunately, most organizations are poised to do just that within the next three years:
85.79% of respondents say they expect their organization to have VR training in place by 2026 .
Perceived Barriers to VR Healthcare Training
All that said, not every healthcare organization is jumping to implement VR healthcare training. Perceived lack of required skill and technical familiarity appears to be the main reason behind the hesitance for organizations that don’t yet use VR:
- 53.88% of respondents say it’s because their staff lacks the expertise to deploy VR training programs.
- 53.40% of respondents say evaluating VR options has been too difficult .
Given the technical underpinnings of VR, it’s easy to understand why some may find its initial setup intimidating. But these concerns are rare to bear out in reality. Less than a third of respondents who use VR in their organization, only 28.35%, reported actually struggling with its implementation. In short, one of the biggest hurdles to more widespread adoption is medical professionals overestimating the difficulty of setting up modern VR solutions.
Initial hesitance aside, the market is already responding to the powerful solutions VR brings to modern medical needs: The virtual reality in healthcare market is
forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 42%
over the next five years, with revenues north of $5.3 billion by the end of 2028.
Why Now Is the Time to Invest in VR Healthcare Training
While the market for VR healthcare training is projected to increase sharply in the next half-decade, enthusiastic responses from the survey show there’s little reason to wait even that long to get started.
More than 9 in 10 respondents (91.24%) agreed that VR enhances education plans and empowers training coordinators to be more effective.
Here are some more of the benefits that respondents agreed were especially key reasons to adopt VR healthcare training:
- 86.09% of respondents agree that those who complete VR training programs are more confident and develop the muscle memory to be successful.
- 75.26% of respondents agree that adding VR allows trainees to complete the program in less time.
- 78.86% of respondents agree that adding VR training allowed programs to scale to other departments or locations.
Beyond the obvious benefits of training staff more effectively in less time with fewer resources, VR for healthcare training was also observed to be a draw for high-caliber employees as well as patients.
- 81.45% of respondents agree that using VR in training gives their organization an edge in attracting top-tier talent.
- 81.96% of respondents agree that using VR in training makes their organization more appealing to patients.
Lastly, 84% of respondents who were involved with the VR purchase process at their organization say they “like” or “love” the VR training deployments they’ve already approved. Given how many respondents cited VR as a key part of their training, and that nearly 9 in 10 respondents expect their organization to have VR training in place by 2026 as we already mentioned, now is the time to start attracting, retaining, and training the next generation of tech-savvy healthcare professionals.
If you’re ready to start building an in-depth and cost-effective VR training program for your healthcare business, we want to help.
Contact HTC VIVE today
to find out how our industry-leading hardware and software, flexible implementations, partner program (ISV), and proven purpose-built integrations can help you unlock the next step in your organization’s growth.
About HTC VIVE
HTC VIVE is the premier extended reality (XR) platform and ecosystem that creates true-to-life VR/MR experiences for businesses and consumers. The VIVE ecosystem delivers premium XR hardware, software, and content. VIVE Business encompasses best-in-class XR hardware, Business Device Management System (DMS), and software and solutions including VIVERSE for Business, VIVE Location-Based Software Suite (LBSS), VIVE Business Streaming (VBS), and VIVE Business Training (VBT) for SMB and enterprise customers. For more information, please visit https://business.vive.com/ .