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Extended reality holds 'incredible potential' for remote care applications

“Extended reality” may sound like something out of a science-fiction story, but it’s very real: It’s a general term for technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality that can help enhance experiences such as games, manufacturing and travel.

It has potential in healthcare too – as HIMSS21 attendees will have the chance to learn.  

Jennifer C. Reneker, assistant dean of scholarly innovation at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, has been researching virtual reality as a way to enhance sports performance and prevent sports injury since 2018.

She says XR offers healthcare providers the chance to explore solutions beyond two-dimensional technologies.  

“Before I started working with XR, I could not grasp the concept of a virtual environment,” she said in an interview with Healthcare IT News. “Without some frame of reference, solutions with XR cannot be fathomed by healthcare innovators and problem-solvers.

“For me, this session is all about inspiring each audience member to think about how XR might be a solution for their unique healthcare need,” Reneker added.  

In addition to her work on sports injuries, Reneker says she recently began the research and development work to design a VR device to quantify an individual’s sensorimotor control and enable concussion detection.   

“The hope is that this device will be useful in the future in-person and remotely, at the point-of-care, with telehealth,” she says.

In fact, when it comes to remote care, Reneker says XR technology offers immense opportunity. The research being conducted at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Center of Excellence in Telehealth includes a range of projects focused on prevention, diagnosis and treatment for neurological disorders.

“Although XR has not been used for these purposes yet, there is incredible potential for this medium to enable interaction with a patient in the virtual environment, even if the provider and the patient are hundreds of miles apart,” she explained.  

“Secondarily, sensor-based measurements are also possible with XR devices, allowing sensitive measurements to be taken, and adding objectivity to patient examination,” she added.  

“Both of these XR attributes offer the potential for remote patient care, including care from various types of specialists.” 

Reneker says she hopes her HIMSS21 session will spark inspiration for its attendees.  

“While extended realities were created to provide immersive environments for entertainment and gaming, they are very sophisticated and novel devices, offering a set of capabilities not realized with other technologies,” she said.   

“Harnessing the creativity of people within healthcare to solve healthcare problems with XR is a recipe for incredible innovations.”

Reneker will go into more detail in her HIMSS21 session, “Health via Extended Reality: Use Case in Sports Medicine.” It’s scheduled for Tuesday, August 10, from 4 to 4:30 p.m. in Caesars Alliance 315.


Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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