“Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But, the Internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming.” Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook

Originally, virtual reality (VR) was a term limited to the world of gaming. However, as we move forward into 2017, the technology is becoming far more prominent in the societal landscape. It’s starting to appear in our everyday lives and there has been a huge influx of virtual reality in the creative industry. So how can it be used within healthcare?

Offering tangible experiences to customers

Video tours have long been a part of clinic and hospital marketers tool kits, but they are traditionally non-immersive for the viewer and they’re promoted across websites and social media. However, VR allows these tours to become virtual and patients can now be submerged into the experience, taking personalised tours of these venues before visiting them, bridging the gap between the community and healthcare providers.

In 2015, the families of sick children at Perth Children’s Hospital were given the chance to see the new hospital in a 360 tour using VR. The exclusive partnership between Seven West Media and the Government gave people the opportunity to explore infrastructure projects through the BigPic360 immersive virtual-reality experience.

Product experiences

As a healthcare marketer, you’re no stranger to product launches from new healthcare tech devices to pharmaceutical drugs. Imagine if you could help people understand how your own or your client’s product will make a real difference to their health? Well, now you can. The pharma giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), illustrated the potential of using VR in healthcare product marketing creating The Migraine Experience to help the public understand that a migraine is ‘more than just a headache’.

The Migraine Experience allowed users to experience common migraine symptoms, such as visual distortions and sensitivity to light or aura. With 36 million people in the USA suffering from migraines, they positioned themselves well offering a solution to the problem – Excedrin Migraine tablets. The users were filmed whilst experiencing the symptoms of a migraine and reactions were captured on camera, making for high-impact video that was viewed over 11 million times on Facebook. This creative campaign is a great illustration of the type or brand storytelling that pharma marketers must start to embrace.

Educational experiences

There is no escaping the fact that many of the medicines we take today have been approved due to clinical trials, and in order to continue moving forward in medicine these trials will to continue. Quintiles, the world’s largest provider of product development and integrated healthcare services, opened its global Solution Design Studio where expert teams will collaborate to create technology solutions that tackle some of healthcare’s biggest challenges using VR – recruiting people to take part in trials.

As VR takes the patient through the journey of learning what’s involved in the given clinical trial and conveys it as an interactive experience rather than something in which they are passive subjects, it will decrease distraction and offer visualisations that can promote better understanding of the study, and contribute to the field of medical science in a positive way.

Virtual reality is becoming a rapidly understood, accessible and economically viable digital health marketing tool, that can assist healthcare marketers to support large healthcare enterprises, clinicians and patients giving them a great understanding of products, services and experiences. There has never been a better time to incorporate virtual reality into your healthcare marketing campaign.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help, or if you’d like to organise a value proposition workshop, please get in touch with Ed Hudson. To receive articles such as these in your inbox please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.