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Impact of 3-D Virtual Reality Visualization on Patient Education, Engagement, and Satisfaction in Pre-surgical Consultation

Author(s): Matthew Z Sun MD, Sophie M Peeters MD, Anthony C Wang MD

Effective physician-patient communication is a key component of the therapeutic relationship. Recently, virtual reality has emerged as a novel communications tool in healthcare.

To evaluate the impact of the Surgical Theater 360-degree virtual reality (360°VR) visualization platform on patient education, engagement, and satisfaction in pre-surgical consultations.

Forty-seven consecutive patients were prospectively surveyed for their pre-surgical consultation experience that incorporated 360°VR renderings created from patient-specific cross-sectional imaging. Patients anonymously completed an online questionnaire that used a 5-point Likert scale or a 10-point value scale (1 = “no value” to 10 = “highly valuable”) regarding their 360°VR and prior consultations. Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test was used to compare responses for prior versus 360°VR consultations.

More than 90% of the patients gave the highest possible rating regarding physician communication and overall satisfaction during the 360°VR consultation. Patients’ responses regarding how well the neurosurgeon explained their medical condition to them, as well as how satisfied they were with their consultation, were significantly more positive for the 360°VR consultation than for previous consultations (p < 0.001). More than 90% of the patients agreed that 360°VR helped improve their understanding of their condition, their ability to weigh the different management options, their comfort level with the proposed management option, and 96% agreed that they selected a management option together with their neurosurgeon during the 360°VR consultation.

The 360°VR consultation improved patients’ perception of how well their surgeons communicated with them as well as their overall satisfaction with the pre-surgical consultation.

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