Virtual reality to improve patient experience in health care

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Many hospitals around the world have started experimenting VR to improve patients quality of life. (Shutterstock)
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Eng. Faisal Ayman Ashour helps introduce virtual reality (VR) to Saudi hospitals in 2018. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Virtual reality to improve patient experience in health care

  • Saudi engineer’s innovation will help people with anxiety, addictions
  • Experiments must be completed before an idea can be distributed, that sometimes takes more than 10 years,” said Ashour

JEDDAH: Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-based three-dimensional imaging sequence that creates a world within a computer system, allowing users to interact with it via a display screen, usually mounted to the face.
Previously, VR had only really impacted the public through video games, but Eng. Faisal Ayman Ashour looked at it differently.
He saw it as a potential non-pharmacologic form of pain relief, by delivering enough sensory information to reduce patient anxiety, eliminating the need for sedatives.
Many hospitals around the world have started experimenting with it. A Calgary hospital recorded 75 percent reductions in discomfort monitoring patients using it, while another at Stanford in the US had similar results when using VR to distract children from receiving previously distressing procedures.
Ashour helped introduce VR to Saudi hospitals last year.
“I always believed every human has a purpose and a mission in this life, we all have talent within us, the challenge is how we develop such a talent. Not to reinvent the wheel and share someone else’s work, but to develop it. VR was invented for entertainment mostly, but such technology can enhance the patient’s quality of life at a low cost,” he said.
The target patients are children and those in palliative care, receiving procedures as simple as a vaccination, or as painful as resetting bones and applying casts.
“I’ve developed and gained more knowledge by merging engineering with medicine. I got my fellowship in medicine to speak the same language as physicians, to develop a solid medical simulation-training program in the Kingdom. Since 2016 I’ve developed several applications involving VR and alternative reality to help patients,” Ashour added.
VR technology in medicine has also been implemented in radiotherapy, CT scans, MRIs, physiotherapy and psychology. This progress hasn’t been without problems, however.
“Introducing such a new technology or concept to be used to replace a previous technique is challenging, especially in the medical field. Experiments must be completed before an idea can be distributed, that sometimes takes more than 10 years,” said Ashour.
“The idea was to engage engineers and physicians to introduce such a modern technology to enhance patient quality of life, and maximize cost efficiency. We have developed more than 10 virtual environments for both medical training purposes, and to improve medical outcomes.”


Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center launches “Kingdom of Energy” podcast

Updated 24 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center launches “Kingdom of Energy” podcast

  • The program targets decision makers, specialists and workers in the energy sectors

RIYADH: The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) has inaugurated a podcast program, titled “Kingdom of Energy”, through which specialized researchers can talk about energy economics, policies, techniques and related environmental issues.

The podcast is an opportunity for people interested in the field of energy to listen to the opinions of specialists in the field, including workers or partners of the center, whether local or international cadres.

The program targets decision makers, specialists and workers in the energy sectors through a new platform on the center’s website, allowing visitors to listen to podcast episodes.

The program is working on producing “Kingdom of Energy” episodes on a regular basis. The first episode is now available on the website in English, and another series is to be produced in Arabic.

KAPSARC is a non-profit research center that conducts independent research into global energy economics, policies, techniques and related environmental studies. The center seeks to find solutions for the most-effective and productive use of energy to promote economic and social growth locally, regionally and internationally.