Empathetic Media Health: 2019/20 Project Update

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The past 12 months at Empathetic Media Health has been a fascinating journey with brand new clients from US, Japan, UK, Ireland and projects in some of the most exciting areas of healthcare. The launch of the new Oculus Quest headset in 2019 meant that we were able to introduce mobile, interactive, immersive VR experiences to our clients in gene therapy, hepatitis C, Batten Disease and refractory chronic cough, amongst others.

Screenshot from our Oculus Quest experience on Gene Therapy for BioMarin

We also signed an alliance agreement with Bionical Solutions, a result of a shared vision of the role of digital solutions in healthcare and the complementarity of our respective offerings. It has already led to some great discussions with potential clients about integrated solutions to improve patient outcomes.

A flurry of travel in Q4 2019 and Q1 2020, when Dan and I visited our clients’ headquarters to kick-off new projects, came to an abrupt end in March when COVID-19 hit us all and we were confined to our home offices. Our smart new office in Bloomsbury gathered dust while we became accustomed to having all of our meetings on Zoom. Fortunately, we were able to carry out VR and AR development remotely and so the design and development of our VR and AR immersive experiences was uninterrupted by the pandemic. We were also lucky to have several large projects on-going when COVID arrived and so the slight dip in new business which we saw in the March to May period was only temporarily alarming !

Our VR and AR products are frequently used at national and international scientific congresses and the pandemic led to a blanket cancellation of all of these. Fortunately, our offerings are readily adaptable to all digital channels and so we were able to weather that storm as well, by enabling their use at virtual events as well as on web-sites and other ad-hoc applications. As social-distancing restrictions slowly ease worldwide, we are gradually turning our attention back to physical events, which are now returning to our calendars…and dusting off the Oculus headsets in anticipation of the return of the full VR experience. Clients are keen to ensure COVID safety throughout this type of project and we have been delighted to have embraced a new, ultraviolet light-based disinfecting system, which is a portable and highly effective way to ensure that VR headsets have zero virus transmission.

As we look ahead to further easing of COVID restrictions, it is clear that the pandemic has accelerated the evolution of more sophisticated digital solutions in healthcare – including VR and AR. It has also led to something of a shift in our collective community mindset – to being more caring and empathetic. This is a trend which naturally resonates with Empathetic Media Health’s ethos and will allow us to further develop and expand in our core area of expertise: immersive, patient-focused experiences in VR/AR/ mixed reality storytelling. We continue to believe that there is no better way than this of generating empathy for patients amongst those responsible for their care and treatment.

All of our current clients are a pleasure to work with and almost all have bestowed new projects upon us having been happy with the initial work. As we embark on new and interesting client discussions on using VR in cancer training and on immersive simulations in medical aesthetics, we are very optimistic about the future and excited to continue our VR/AR journey into 2021 and beyond.

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