vr in healthcare

VR in Healthcare – How to Build a VR Simulator

Estimated read time: 12 minutes

Wondering how to build a VR simulator for your healthcare business?

VR technology is a rapidly growing market that represents billions of dollars.

According to a study done by Globe News Wire, the Virtual Reality Market is expected to reach USD 161.1 billion by 2025, witnessing a 48.8% CAGR during the forecast period (2020–2025).

Besides all the money you can make, innovating in this VR healthcare industry represents a chance to make a positive impact on people’s quality of life.

Moreover, such technological innovations make work easier for medical professionals, like understanding human anatomy, complex medical training, etc.

How to Create a VR Simulator for Healthcare?

I will now explain the steps to create a VR simulator for healthcare, which are as follows:

1. Decide on the project scope for VR in a healthcare software solution

I recommend that you define the following scope for this project:

  • Offer a web app, moreover, offer Android and iOS apps.
  • Include key features like VR simulation and collaboration using virtual rooms.

Note that a project to create a VR simulator for healthcare is a high-visibility one. You need to manage the project scope proactively. Read our article on project management for more guidance.

2. Agree on an SDLC model

A software development project to create a VR simulator for healthcare is a high-stakes project. Moreover, it will have well-defined key features like the simulator and virtual room.

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The senior management in the healthcare institution would certainly want a project like this to go through structured reviews after key milestones.

The senior management in the healthcare institution would certainly want a project like this to go through structured reviews after key milestones.

Read more about Waterfall in our article what is the software development life cycle and what you plan for.

3. Build a team for a VR healthcare project

Your project team needs the following roles:

  • A project manager (PM);
  • Business analysts (BAs);
  • User interface (UI) designers;
  • VR developers;
  • Web developers;
  • Android developers;
  • iOS developers;

You might weigh between hiring a freelancer vs. a field expert team, and our guide on Freelance app development teamS vs. field expert software development teams can help you with this question.

When hiring VR developers, you should look for the following skills and competencies:

  • Knowledge of SDLC;
  • Familiarity with managed cloud services like Amazon EC2, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, etc.;
  • Experience with well-known VR SDKs/APIs;
  • Familiarity with web development using Node.js, Android development, iOS development, DevOps, and popular test automation frameworks;
  • An ability to collaborate.

Read our guide “How to Hire VR Developers – the ultimate checklist” for more insights.

4. Formulate a development approach

I recommend that you use the following development approach:

  • I recommend that you use the following development approach:
  • Use managed cloud services like Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for developing the web app and Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) to develop mobile apps. This frees you up from managing the infrastructure.
  • Utilize reputed VR software development kits (SDKs) to build core features.
  • Use test automation aids with test automation frameworks to improve the test coverage.

You can read our guide What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app to understand the value this approach offers.

5. Estimate the healthcare VR simulator project

For the next step, you need to estimate the project, and this involves estimating the following:

  • Software development manpower: You need to estimate the manpower cost for the SDLC phases like requirements analysis, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
  • Infrastructure and platform: This part of the estimation covers managed cloud services like AWS.
  • Tools: You need to estimate the cost of SDKs, development frameworks, and test automation frameworks.
  • You need to estimate the other administrative expenses like hiring and communication.

Our guide “How much does it cost to build a VR app?” can help you with this estimation.

6. Sign-up for a PaaS platform

As you are developing a web app, you need the necessary IT infrastructure and platforms. I recommend you use AWS Elastic Beanstalk, i.e., the PaaS offering from AWS. There are several advantages to using a PaaS platform, e.g.:

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  • PaaS providers manage cloud infrastructure, networking, middleware, operating system, and runtime environment while your team can concentrate on coding.
  • You can easily integrate databases and other 3rd party APIs with a PaaS platform.
  • Reputed PaaS platforms like AWS Elastic Beanstalk have matured DevOps tools, which makes your development, testing, and deployment easier.
  • You can scale your app when using a PaaS platform.

I have explained these advantages in 10 top PaaS providers.

7. Sign-up for an MBaaS platform

Now that you have an AWS account, I recommend that you use the same account to sign-up for AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS platform from AWS. This expedites the development of the mobile app since you get the following advantages:

  • MBaaS providers manage cloud infrastructure and persistent storage.
  • You don‘t need to develop the mobile backend and manage it over the longer term.
  • It‘s easier to implement user management and security features when you use an MBaaS platform, moreover, it‘s also easier to implement push notifications.
  • You will find it easier to scale your mobile app when you use an MBaaS platform.

You can read more about the advantages of MBaaS in “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”.

8. Get a VR solution to develop the VR simulation feature

I recommend that you use the Unity VR platform to build the core features of VR simulation. It works with all prominent VR platforms, e.g.:

  • StreamVR;
  • Meta Quest;
  • PlayStation VR, etc.

You can also use it for Android and iOS devices. You can use the following resources to get the required guidance:

Unity publishes the pricing plans here.

9. UI design 

Trainees need a simple and user-friendly UI, therefore, your UI design team should use appropriate guidelines and best practices for this work. You need to consult the following resources:

10. Get a test automation aid to improve test coverage

You need to test the web and mobile apps against different browsers and mobile devices, moreover, they come with different versions. This can be hard, however, Digital.ai’s continuous testing platform provides a solution for this with its Automated App Testing Lab on the cloud. I recommend that you use it.

11. Web app development

It‘s now time to develop the web app, and I recommend that you use Node.js for this. This open-source runtime environment has several advantages, e.g.:

  • Since Node.js is built on JavaScript and it‘s popular with most programmers, it‘s easier for developers to work with it.
  • It facilitates asynchronous event-driven programming, which is good for scaling a web app. A VR simulator web app should scale well.
  • Node.js is good for streaming, which is important for this project.
  • A large developer community has created and shared many open-source tools and frameworks for Node.js, and this helps programmers to achieve higher productivity.

You can read “10 great tools for Node.Js Software Development” to learn more about the advantages of Node.js.

Developing this web app involves the following:

12. Code, test, and publish the Android app

I recommend that you use Java to code the Android app. This involves the following steps:

  • Use Android Studio for coding.
  • Integrate Unity VR in the app.
  • Use Espresso and Digital.ai mobile device lab for testing the app.
  • Publish it to Google Play, by using this guide.

13. iOS app development

The next step is to code, test, and publish the iOS app, and I recommend that you code this app using Swift. This powerful language has many features, moreover, Apple recommends Swift for app development for its platforms.

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You need to do the following:

  • Code the app using Xcode, i.e., the popular IDE for developing apps on Apple‘s platforms.
  • Integrate Unity VR solution in the code.
  • Test the app using XCTest and the Digital.ai mobile device lab.
  • Publish the app to the Apple App Store, by following this guide.

You have just completed the project to build a VR simulator for healthcare.

Planning to Build a Simulator Using VR in Healthcare?

A project to build a VR simulator for the healthcare sector can be complex, therefore, I recommend that you take help from a reputed software development company.

Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” can help you with due diligence.

DevTeam.Space can also help you here via its field-expert software developers community. All our developers are vetted, dedicated, and have high-quality technical and communication skills.

You can outsource these vetted developers according to your healthcare VR simulator project requirements. 

Write to us your initial product specifications via this form, and one of our account managers will get back to you with further help on project planning, partnering with developers, managing them, etc.

Further Reading

Here are a few articles that might also interest you:

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Frequently Asked Questions on VR in Healthcare

Can I build a VR simulator?

Anyone with the skills, experience, and resources can build a VR simulator. Due to the niche skills required for virtual reality in healthcare, it is more expensive than most other kinds of VR development.

How VR can be used in healthcare?

Healthcare virtual reality has enormous potential for healthcare professionals and patients. Virtual reality tools can be used in medical groups teaching to allow medical students to train for surgical procedures just like in an operating room. According to the American Board of Internal Medicine, it is better for residents to train in VR simulation tools before interventions on real-life patients. Moreover, VR simulators can help train staff on emergency evacuations, impart remote medical education, provide physical therapy and mental health therapy in a virtual environment, assist in pain management, etc.

Where to find VR developers?

DevTeam.Space is a community of field expert developers with years of experience developing virtual reality solutions. Simply send your project requirements, and a dedicated account manager will be in touch to answer any questions you might have.

Is there virtual reality technology for Microsoft Xbox One and Sony Playstation 4?

Both gaming consoles are able to run VR games. Arguments range from whether Xbox or Playstation VR is better. Both work with a range of VR headsets, including the Oculus Quest VR headset and numerous other Samsung joystick and steering wheel controllers to enhance the VR gameplay experience.


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Alexey Semeney

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