UPDATED 10:37 EDT / MARCH 03 2020

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XRHealth offers VR telehealth services for some quarantined coronavirus patients

Virtual reality telehealth startup XRHealth today announced that it’s working with Israel’s Sheba Medical Center to offer VR services to patients exposed to the coronavirus who have been quarantined at the hospital.

Infections with the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, continue to rise, with new cases being discovered and disclosed across the world. According to the World Health Organization, there have been more than 89,000 cases confirmed globally. To protect the uninfected, some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are placed into quarantine.

The process of quarantine is by definition isolating and lonely. The effect of even short-term quarantine can cause dramatic psychological health effects, which in turn lowers a person’s ability to fight off disease. XRHealth believes that by helping ease some of the isolation caused by quarantine, combined with the ability to allow medical professionals and patients to interact more naturally, will aid positive outcomes.

The partnership will have the medical center provide patients with VR headsets equipped with XRHealth’s extended reality technology platform and data analysis capabilities. The platform will also include apps that will allow patients to take virtual tours of idyllic locations.

“The ability to strap on a headset, lay back, relax and virtually visit any location they want will help patients to remain connected with the world and cope with feelings of isolation while being quarantined,” XRHealth Chief Executive Eran Orr said in a statement. “Our VR treatment platform also has programs that assist in working through stress and anxiety, which obviously are also prominent concerns for those being treated for coronavirus.”

With VR technology a person can be whisked away from any physical place into a totally different virtual environment. After putting on a VR headset, the sterile, white walls of a quarantine bay vanish, replaced by screens in the headset designed to cover the user’s vision with an immersive 360-degree view supported by 3D audio technology.

Using VR technology can change a hospital bed into a moment standing next to the crashing cascade of water pouring over Niagara Falls, a movie theater playing a feature film, a bustling virtual nightclub or even a view of Earth while standing on the Moon.

XRHealth, the first certified VR telehealth medical company in the world, recently launched its own telehealth clinic in the United States. The clinic operates across multiple states and provides therapeutic care remotely using VR headsets with licensed professionals who can treat neurological and psychological conditions.

The same headsets capable of entertainment can also provide human interaction between doctors and isolated patients without breaking quarantine. Using 3D avatars, doctors can converse with patients in a way that is more social and more human than speaking to them through plexiglass doors or while wearing body-covering biohazard suits.

“We welcome the addition of VR telehealth services as a treatment tool for patients,” Galia Barkai, head of telemedicine at Sheba, said in a statement. “The ability to stay in touch with the outside world will certainly help the mental state of those quarantined for extended periods.”

XRHealth’s VR telehealth platform also provides data collection and analytical tools that doctors can use to monitor the neurological and social health of patients. And although it is currently being deployed to assist patients in quarantine, it can also be sent home to continue outpatient care and monitoring.

Photo: Pixabay

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