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Revolutionary potential: three ways to use VR in life sciences learning

While it could be argued that virtual reality (VR) is useful purely because it excites users and customers, the true worth of VR in life sciences goes far beyond novelty.

VR technology can immensely improve our understanding of the science behind research and product development in the pharma sector. We’re looking forward to discussing some of its advantages during our webinar later in May on the learning revolution in life sciences.

In the meantime, here are three ways VR is playing a part in transforming the way pharma and life sciences organisations learn.

Visualisation takes learning inside the body

Although some products can be explained perfectly well in a physical environment, understanding elements and behaviours that you can’t see is much more complicated.

Enter VR…

Visualising disease at a biological level – known as the mechanism of disease – allows learners to observe the way things such as cancerous cells, viruses and bacteria work.

They could, for example, wear a VR headset to go “inside” the body, rather than simply observing from a distance. Similarly, the mechanism of action can be recreated and explored to show how drugs work at a molecular level inside the human body.

These techniques allow learners to relate to anatomical intricacies, and action and disease mechanisms in a completely new way.

Female medicine doctor working with VR in life sciences

VR in life sciences lets you explore inaccessible environments

Opportunities to enter certain areas of a manufacturing facility, such as a clean room, are limited. Entry is restricted to staff with all of the right controls and clothing.

VR can give cohorts of learners the chance to explore a clean room without any risk of causing contamination. Using computer-based training and VR simulations, trainees can take a tour of the factory floor, learn how to operate machines and build their knowledge and skills without any risk of damage.

According to Tom Orton, a technology expert who helped to build clean rooms in Intel factories in the US and internationally from the 1970s onwards, clean room problems and errors have been significantly reduced by the introduction of virtual training.

Technology-based learning also supports continuous learning. There is potentially no limit to the number of times learners working with VR can walk through a clean room and practise procedures.

This reinforces optimal behaviours, reduces the number of mistakes made and provides learners with a safe environment in which to try things out and learn without critical consequences.

Use VR in life sciences for better conversations

As we’ve seen, the use of VR in life sciences has the potential to give learners a profound understanding of how products work, leading to more informed conversations and greater clarity for buyers and patients.

It can also work as a tool to enable people to practise conversations and presentations with patients and healthcare professionals, as well as building empathy. Most medical students in their mid-20s, for instance, would struggle to fully comprehend the sight and hearing problems experienced by many of their elderly patients.

To bridge the knowledge gap, one academic in Chicago created a VR programme using a headset, headphones and a hand-tracking device. This immersed users in a series of short sequences from the perspective of a 74-year-old man with audio-visual impairments.

In one programme created by LEO Learning, sales representatives were given the opportunity to explore the environment of a healthcare professional’s office, enabling them to look for clues that they could use to guide the conversation with the healthcare professional.

Our sister company, BAFTA-winning applied games and mixed reality studio PRELOADED, is also a specialist in using VR to show learners environments they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. Earlier this year, they worked with Tate Modern in the UK to recreate the final studio of one of the 20th century’s greatest painters, Amedeo Modigliani, including 60+ objects, entirely in VR.

A screenshot of the PRELOADED-designed VR experience for Tate Modern about artist Amedeo Modigliani

How can you deliver learning that works?

The life sciences sector is experiencing a period of rapid change. To find out how VR and other technologies are driving this revolution, join our webinar with LEO Learning’s Senior Account Director, Sean Nugent, and Mark Harbour, Director of Chrysalis Capability Ltd, an independent training consultancy, and former Head of Learning and Development at Grünenthal Pharmaceuticals.

Between 4pm and 5pm BST on May 23 2018, Sean and Mark will also discuss challenges such as speed and compliance as part of a session which will benefit anyone involved in the sector.

Young chemists working in pharmaceutical laboratory

Click below for full details and to register.

Join the webinar