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VR Palliative Care Training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

VR Hospice and Palliative Training Initiative at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Recently, Boston-based Brigham and Women’s Hospital and tech startup Jolly Good Inc. collaborated to create a virtual reality training programme designed to enhance communication skills among end-of-life care and severe illness providers.

Dr. Kei Ouchi, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School and a clinician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, believes that effective communication with critically ill patients and their families is crucial to providing high-quality care at different stages of their health trajectories.

Speaking to local journalists, Ouchi said that the goal of this state-of-the-art virtual reality course is to teach medical practitioners appropriate palliative care communication methods. By putting themselves in authentic circumstances, physicians may learn the skills necessary to deal with their patients and their loved ones in a sympathetic and fruitful way.

A teaching hospital for the Harvard Medical School system is Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In its native state of Massachusetts, as well as in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, the hospital-based system is a component of Mass General Brigham. The hospital said that the collaboration with Jolly Good helped healthcare providers become more proficient communicators when it came to palliative care.

CEO Kensuke Joji established the virtual reality startup in Tokyo in 2015. Since then, it has created a number of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) programmes for human resource development, medical and nursing education, and social and communication skills for a range of healthcare settings, including mental health, hospice, and palliative care. Harvard University, Mahidol University, and other academic institutions are partners of Jolly Good.

The programme at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, known as the Palliative Care Communication Training VR, helps professionals build compassionate communication skills by providing realistic situations that they may experience with patients and families.

According to Ouchi, the use of virtual reality technology in medical education might aid in the practice of physicians’ abilities to handle delicate subjects at various phases of critical and fatal diseases.

Virtual reality simulations of terminally sick or critically ill patients accessing emergency rooms are included in the training programmes. The simulations, which are conducted from the viewpoint of a doctor, include several approaches to informing patients and families in critical care circumstances about prognosis, illness trajectory, available treatments, and available resources.

According to Ouchi, the programme was partially created as a result of increased awareness of the value of communication training in enhancing patient-centred care and lowering clinical mistakes. According to him, a VR-based programme would enable more time-constrained physicians to develop their palliative communication skills in a more accessible and affordable manner.

Ouchi revealed that there are few possibilities, including financial and schedule limitations, for practitioners who do not specialise in palliative care to acquire these abilities. With the development of VR equipment, doctors now have a flexible substitute that lets them rehearse difficult scenarios when it suits them best. Better communication between patients and their loved ones as a result might lead to more personalised care.

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