Boston Children’s Hospital and Klick Health, today unveiled a virtual reality (VR) platform to bring patients’ individual medical findings to life in an immersive, 3D environment. The proof of concept VR platform named HealthVoyager is a medical education and patient experience platform.
The first iteration of the tool, HealthVoyager™ GI, has been designed for pediatric gastrointestinal (GI) patients and is being used at Boston Children’s as part of a clinical study to validate its effect on patient and family understanding, engagement, and satisfaction.
Developed as part of a collaborative innovation partnership between Klick and Boston Children’s Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator, HealthVoyager GI is the subject of a clinical study at the hospital. It is being measured against the current standard of care with regard to patient/parent satisfaction, engagement, and disease/findings awareness levels. Klick and Boston Children’s are also exploring the expansion of the platform to other disease states, anatomical areas, and patient types.
By integrating into the clinical workflow of endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies, HealthVoyager GI will enable Boston Children’s gastroenterologists to custom-configure life-like, 3D anatomical imagery and take pediatric patients with conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis on iPhone-based virtual tours of their GI tract. Aimed at creating an impactful, engaging, and memorable experience, the platform leverages modern technology to communicate a patient’s personalized conditions and endoscopic findings.
HealthVoyager also takes a cue from Precision Medicine – the personalization of drug therapy and genomics for effective disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment – and aims to create Precision Education opportunities for patients and their families. Boston Children’s Chief Innovation Officer John Brownstein, PhD, explained, “When you think about the care path of a patient journey, every aspect of that journey can be customized, including education. To ensure the best possible patient experience, Precision Education needs to be part of the Precision Medicine conversation as we create the future of healthcare.”
HealthVoyager consists of three components: the healthcare provider (HCP) frontend application, the patient mobile application, and an intermediary web service that ties the two together. The platform is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and is being developed to be accessible from within a hospital’s electronic medical record (EMR) systems to protect the privacy and security of patient health information and ensure clinical adoption and sustainability. It runs on iOS; Android compatibility will be available on future versions.
Helping patients visualize their disease
Traditionally, gastroenterologists share endoscopy and colonoscopy findings with patients and their families using print outs that become part of a patient’s medical record following the procedure. These clinical documents are highly text-based, written in medical language, some with static thumbnail images and are designed for medical documentation, not necessarily patient understanding.
“Putting myself in a nine-year-old’s shoes, I can see HealthVoyager™ being a more fun and valuable way to learn about and share complicated information like endoscopic findings,” said Michael Docktor, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist who co-developed the tool and Clinical Director of Innovation at Boston Children’s Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator. “We hypothesize that the more children and their families can visualize and understand their disease, the more likely they may be to communicate when they have a particular symptom and adhere to their therapies.”
How HealthVoyager GI Works:
At the Physician Level
1. The physician inputs the clinical findings of a patient’s endoscopy and/or colonoscopy onto a proprietary web interface that customize the upper and lower GI tract digital illustrations on the platform. Using drag-and-drop functionality, the physician can accurately place polyps, ulcers, bleeding, and other conditions precisely where they are found during the actual procedure(s).
2. The physician clicks to generate the patient report and bring the clinical findings to life in a customized 3D anatomical virtual reality experience.
3. The tool automatically generates a PDF report with unique patient QR code to share with the patient and family.
At the Patient Level
4. The patient/family scans the custom QR code using their mobile phone to access their personalized HealthVoyager™ experience.
5. The patient creates their personalized avatar on the app.
Using VR clip-on glasses, Google Cardboard, or another VR headset, the patient clicks to start their own customized VR tour inside their GI digestive tract, traveling through their upper and lower GI regions in 3D to see an accurate representation of what their doctor(s) saw during their procedure(s). For added context, they can also compare their unique findings of their GI tract with a tour of an unaffected patient’s procedure.