Not so far in the future, in lieu of popping a pill, your doctor might prescribe a virtual beach vacation to ease your aches and pains. Insurance companies might offer scenic tours of Icelandic fjords to lower blood pressure, instead of doubling up on drugs. Psychiatrists might treat social phobia by immersing patients in a virtual dinner party.

It’s starting to happen right now because of virtual reality (VR) – the mind-bending technology that offers immersive, multisensory environments that nudge our brains into thinking we are somewhere else.

For decades, scientists have been discovering the surprising health benefits of VR for ailments ranging from burn injuries, to stroke, to posttraumatic stress. Thousands of studies reveal that VR has an uncanny ability to block pain, calm nerves and boost mental health – all without drugs and their unwanted side effects. But the technology has been too expensive, unreliable and unwieldy for the research to translate beyond the pages of academic journals and doctoral dissertations… until now. Explosive advances in delivering low-cost, portable and high-quality VR to the masses has spawned a multibillion dollar medical field called Medical VR.

The next challenge is to scale and implement VR into everyday clinical practice. Clinicians and investigators are learning what works – and doesn’t work – in creating “Virtualist” consult services and VR programs for patient care.

Virtual Medicine is a one-day symposium and hands-on workshop that convenes the brightest minds in medical VR. Attendees learn from case studies, didactic lectures, patient vignettes, and simulation workshops, to achieve the following educational objectives:

Review evidence supporting the efficacy of therapeutic VR
Study patient vignettes where VR worked – and didn’t work – to improve outcomes
Learn best practices and pragmatic tips for implementing VR into clinical workflows
Discuss the cost-effectiveness of therapeutic VR programs
Hear directly from patients who have received VR therapeutics

Registration for Virtual Medicine is now open. The event takes place 29 March 2018. To go to the Virtual Medicine website, click here.