The Learning Reality

Posted by Dan Chichester from Ogilvy Health on June 21, 2019


Before making it virtual…

Before layering on the augmented…

We need to focus on the reality.


The real needs of patients, caregivers, and doctors define a meaningful standard, which virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) should aim for.


It’s important to remember these technologies are a medium for progress—not progress itself. With a feature set of (potential) wider reach, content interactivity, relative ease of use, a wealth of information and extraordinary personal experience—VR and AR are tremendous opportunities for learning. The chance to explain health and treatment in ways we never could before means people can understand things in ways they never could before.


“It’s important to remember these technologies are a medium for progress—not progress itself.”


Think about how the University of Utah is studying VR and patients with Parkinson’s disease. Using a full restraint tether to maintain a safe environment, these patients encounter multiple terrains and obstacles. They like training and challenging themselves without fear of falling—while keeping muscle memory active and potentially warding off further deterioration.


Consider how Ogilvy Brazil helped children overcome their fear of needles with VR vaccine. As a doctor’s office is mirrored by a virtual world—for example, a soft antiseptic swab matches a magical touch in a fantasy environment—the experience teaches children that vaccination is no big deal. A moment of pain is absorbed in entertainment, and the bigger realization for the child that he or she is a hero protected by a powerful shield.


Imagine how apps such as Insight-Heart create an AR organ that HCPs and patients can interact with to discuss cardiovascular issues. Take it a step further. Use that person’s data from an Apple Watch to get that augmented heart moving in rhythm to an actual irregular heartbeat and the encounter is one of increased relevancy and understanding.


“Learning is an experience.
Everything else is just information.”

- Albert Einstein


In our Innovation Lab, we’re looking at how AR promotes learning by displaying atopic dermatitis flares on an HCP’s hand. The realization is two-fold:


1) A greater sense of empathy when HCPs see a condition on their skin vs. that of other people


2) With the chance to peel away layers of skin, HCPs see the need for treatments that go beyond topical creams and must get to the source of the problem


VR builds on the Edward Tufte maxim that, “Excellence in statistical graphics consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency.” Ogilvy Health translated the text and figures of autonomous longitudinal patient data into VR experiential learning. The ability to walk into the data-revealed trends and patterns in participatory ways that visually revealed how many people dropped off treatment all together during various phases of a study—an “AHA!” moment that would never happen in “mere reality.”


Namechecking Einstein, the preeminent expert in the first XR (Expanding Reality) had this to say: “Learning is an experience. Everything else is just information.” Move past the 1s and 0s for the VR and AR experience-based activities that can engage the brain’s multiple learning systems and help increase knowledge about ourselves and others.


Be it virtual or augmented, the reality of learning is what empowers peoples’ better health.