How Can Marketers Best Unleash the Potential of Virtual Reality?

Photo credit: Olivier Riché/Creative Commons

Dave Sonderman, chief creative officer, GSW 

As an empathy tool, virtual reality has the potential to be far more powerful than a mere video or gaming experience in healthcare. We've already ridden out a stroke, felt an epileptic seizure and given friends our migraines. But the ultimate difference between an expensive parlor trick and powerful empathetic experience is the quality of the content and stories we tell with it. The novelty of VR is already wearing thin — look no further than mobile phones and Google Cardboard. How far we let our agency's imaginations run with this medium will become the only limiting factor of engagement. The value will be in crafting and championing experiences worth having.

Phil Storer, ideation team, Fingerpaint 

Virtual reality is already being used in a number of different ways in healthcare. Fully-immersive details, empathy generators, and pain (and hospital) distraction, are creating new experiences for HCPs and patients. While exciting, these experiences are still passive. Interactive VR is the next step, which allows a viewer to interact with the VR world, so an HCP could interact with a mechanism of action. At Fingerpaint, it's allowed us to create a VR Fingerpaint studio that lets disabled patients actually create art. New live-streaming VR will create another breakthrough: real-time virtual engagement. Remote device teaching for surgeons is now a possibility, and live-streaming powers one of our VR applications for pediatric oncology infusion centers, which can connect children with their heroes in real-time.

Mike Marett, founder, Confideo Labs

As the digital landscape evolves, new tools are being designed to deliver content in brand new ways. Above all, virtual reality has sparked a revolution in immersive digital healthcare media.  Already tapped for physician training, patient therapy, and marketing, VR improves storytelling and accelerates learning for a few reasons: VR is an "empathy engine,"highly effective at forming an emotional connection; VR creates "episodic memories,"which are active learning techniques that improve retention; VR media delivered in a goggle ensures express focus on core content, eliminating distractions. Pharma marketers are re-imagining their medical media and producing 180 or 360-degree VR video assets to amplify patient perspectives and disease state awareness, deployed at conferences and in the field, empowering reps with differentiating educational tools.  The immersive multimedia is borderless and the potential to advance delivery of critical medical information is limitless…game on!

Matt Silver, managing director, REDBIRD, a Havas Health Company

A skeptic at heart, my initial impression was that virtual reality was just the latest in a series of fads — destined to join the dustbin along with QR codes, 3D videos, and holograms. The first VR experiences could often be better presented using more traditional technology due to hardware performance issues which made some nauseous.  However, the evolution in hardware and creative focus has turned me into a true believer. We believe in creating experiences that are laser focused on specific disease conditions in order to increase empathy and real-world understanding of the patient journey. By leveraging precise metrics with VR, data visualization, spatial, and cognitive behavioral patterns, we can challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of what's possible.