The (R)evolution of Virtual Reality in Medicine and Pharma: from Outsider to Insider

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Virtual Reality (VR) has made extraordinary progress since its inception, moving beyond the early days of 360-degree videos to the interactive, standalone (not requiring an external PC, just the headset) VR experiences we enjoy today. Companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) have been at the forefront of this transformation, continually investing in VR technology and integration across various sectors, including healthcare. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into how VR is being harnessed by major companies across a broad range of applications, focusing specifically on surgery and medical training. Additionally, we will explore how the awareness and confidence in VR have steadily increased over the years, with a focus on the success of Oculus Quest headsets (though alternatives – such as the Pico 4, are widely available), their widespread adoption, and the measurable impact of VR storytelling, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Rising Confidence in VR

The journey of VR from its early stages to its current state of sophistication has been marked by a steady increase in awareness and confidence. This growth is exemplified by the remarkable success of Oculus Quest headsets, which have played a pivotal role in bringing VR to the mainstream.

As of the latest statistics available, over 20 million Oculus Quest headsets have been sold globally. These devices represent a significant leap in VR technology, offering a standalone, all-in-one solution that provides users with immersive experiences without the need for external equipment or powerful computers. This accessibility has been a game-changer, making VR more approachable for a broader audience, as has the inclusion of refinements with each iteration, such as controller-less hand tracking, which we’ve seen an amazing response to in our recent projects, see below:

Companies Embracing VR for Medical Advancements

The pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors have witnessed a surge in the adoption of VR technologies, driven by increased confidence in their efficacy. Major companies, both within and outside the healthcare industry, have recognized the potential of VR and have begun integrating it into their operations.

  1. Enhanced Surgical Precision: Meta’s Oculus Quest and similar devices have empowered medical institutions to harness the capabilities of interactive VR in surgery. Surgeons and clinicians can now engage in highly realistic simulations to refine their skills and improve surgical precision. Companies like Intuitive Surgical have embraced VR to enhance their robotic surgical systems, resulting in minimally invasive surgeries with unprecedented accuracy. Empathetic Media Health has also designed and produced custom mixed reality solutions to train medical staff on how to conduct delicate procedures such as facial injections which you read more about here.

  2. Medical Education Revolution: The rising confidence in VR is revolutionizing medical education. Medical students and professionals can immerse themselves in realistic virtual environments, thanks to companies like Osso VR and our own custom emergency response solution, which you can sneak a glimpse of below:

    These platforms have gained widespread recognition for their role in empowering healthcare practitioners to refine their skills without risking the safety of real patients.
  3. Patient Empowerment through VR: The pharmaceutical industry, in particular, has embraced VR as a tool for patient education. Major pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis, have developed VR programs that educate patients about their medical conditions and treatment options. VR’s interactive nature empowers patients to make informed decisions about their health, increasing treatment compliance and improving overall outcomes. We took full advantage of VR’s power to bridge gaps in understanding between service users and clinicians in our project for Gilead that used our proprietary branching narrative system to allow users to choose their own path through over an hour’s worth of 360 live action video interviews, which you can see below:


The journey of VR from its early days to its current state of interactive, standalone VR experiences has been marked by a growing awareness and confidence in its potential. The success of Oculus Quest headsets and their widespread adoption highlights the increasing acceptance of VR among consumers.

Major companies have harnessed VR technology to advance surgery, medical training, and patient education. This adoption reflects a high level of confidence in VR’s efficacy and its transformative potential in healthcare.

Furthermore, in the pharmaceutical industry, VR storytelling has emerged as a powerful tool for conveying information, engaging audiences, and ultimately improving patient outcomes. The measurable impact of VR storytelling compared to traditional textual approaches underscores the growing recognition of VR’s role in revolutionizing pharmaceutical communications.

As we move forward, the momentum of VR in medicine, pharmaceuticals, and beyond continues to build. The confidence in VR’s ability to revolutionize healthcare is not only justified but also a testament to the ever-expanding possibilities of this transformative technology. The era of VR in healthcare and pharma is not just a vision of the future; it is our present reality, and its potential continues to expand.

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