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Weekly Byte: Virtual Reality and Medicine
One of the most anticipated technologies coming out in the next six months are the Oculus Rift and SteamVR, both promising to resurrect virtual reality from the dustbin of 90's hype. I have yet to try on even the developer preview prototypes, but I'm already saving my allowance to purchase one of them early next year. The reason is not purely play (although that would be a big part of it), but curiosity in how it may impact medicine in the coming years. At pMD, we spend our days split between talking with medical professionals and building software to help them save time and deliver better care to patients through charge capture, secure messaging, and care coordination. Looking at new technologies and imagining how they may help our mission is a big part of that.

Looking back at some of the literature of the 1990's, during the peak of the unfulfilled VR bubble, we have some tantalizing possibilities:

• Surgical training
• Preoperative planning
• Educating both doctors and patients via 3D models of the anatomy
• Psychological and physical treatments of patients (PTSD, phantom limb syndrome, phobias)
• Diagnostic tool for displaying patient imaging results more accurately
• Telemedicine from remote diagnosis to complex tele-interventions

These possibilities may soon become practical in the years ahead and end up not only as potential charge codes, but find their way into pMD's suite of offerings ;)

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