Orca Health’s CEO Matthew Berry explains how using 3D animated tools are helping patients see the big picture when it comes to their health.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the value a 3D animation can yield. That’s the mindset Orca Health’s Matthew Berry wants you to have when considering how such technology can improve communication and education between physicians and patients. But can 3D-animated tools really have that kind of impact?
“They are more than mere attention grabbers,” said Berry, cofounder and CEO of the Sandy, UT-based software company developing these animated applications. “Studies show that 3D animations are more effective than text and 2D illustrations alone in communicating health information. When you engage in multisensory learning, the capacity of the human brain to process information is increased because it involves more sensory inputs.”
The idea of captivating through multisensory learning inspired Berry and his father Robert Berry, a practicing orthopedic surgeon, to develop 3D animations that could better relay the diagnostic details and treatment processes, including surgical procedures, to patients. As a result, Orca Health released its SpineDecide app with success in 2010. Today, it offers 11 apps with content that covers diagnosis and treatment information in orthopedics, cardiology, ophthalmology, and otolaryngology.
The apps (equipped with anatomy; condition, procedure, and exercise videos; illustrations; and radiographic images) are quelling the former frustrations caused by using traditional education materials, while putting patients’ minds at ease. Thanks to the apps’ ability to incorporate personalized patient data, physicians can deliver more relevant information more readily, and patients can gain access to that information from their mobile devices when they need a refresher on the finer details.
The proliferation of mobile devices has inspired and motivated companies like Orca Health to expand on its applications’ functionality and accessibility. Still, patients don’t have to carry the technology with them to benefit from physicians using it, according to Berry. “When our 3D interactive animations are viewed in a clinical setting, the patient’s socioeconomic status, literacy or education level, income, or tech-savvy doesn’t matter,” he said. “The effectiveness of the tools remains unquestioned. They will walk away from their visit with a greater understanding of their care and treatment.”
The positives of the products seem to speak for themselves; Orca Health reports that surgical retention rates have increased by more than 15 percent, and patient satisfaction has improved between 10 to 15 percent among its 62,000 medical providers. Additionally, it’s saving time for physicians; approximately 40-60 minutes each day, an important plus since the demand on physicians to provide better education to improve outcomes is growing.
The apps may have an impact at the point of care, but what about beyond it? Could these types of animated applications foster greater communications in medical education, telemedicine, and population health management (PHM)? Berry says that Orca’s applications are already proving to enhance medical training by teaching transferable medical skills to medical students long before they see a patient. As for PHM, Berry says 3D animations could play a valuable part as reimbursement models continue to gain traction among providers.
“Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is key for engagement and disease management,” he said. “Orca Health creates automated feedback loops that help patients feel like they are at the center of their care rather than believing they are research subjects forced to act as data donors. As we continue to expand our content into different verticals, our tools have a greater reach to impact more lives, especially those who are affected by diseases that require long-term treatment, which demand greater communication between invested parties and increased access to reliable information.”
How 3D animation applications will further connect patients and medical providers has yet to be determined. But Orca Health is proving that their presence and impact on patients is effective. At the very least, the company has given credence to the old adage that seeing is believing. If patients can see their diagnosis and methods of treatment clearly, perhaps they will believe in it more, along with the value of their own participation in the process.
“The one thing that will never change in healthcare is having visits with your doctor,” said Berry. “Whether in person or over video conferencing, educating patients will always be a part of that process, as physicians try to share their medical knowledge, so they can empower patients to make informed decisions.”