How To Build A VR Simulator For Your Healthcare Business

Doctors and nurses have incredibly difficult and demanding jobs.

As such, they need high-quality, hands-on training to effectively carry out their responsibilities. This kind of training is expensive and very time consuming, however. This is one field where Virtual Reality (VR) can make a big difference.

VR simulators are gaining prominence in the healthcare sector since these can enable effective hands-on training at a lower cost. If you have a healthcare business, you might be wondering how to take advantage of the growth of this technology.

To give you a good idea of how you can do this, I will explain how to build a VR simulator for your healthcare business.

Contents

How costly are the training programs for doctors and nurses in hospitals?
How VR simulators are helping hospitals and doctors
The market for VR in the healthcare sector
Examples of VR healthcare simulator platforms
How to create a VR simulator for healthcare
Planning to build a healthcare VR simulator?

How costly are the training programs for doctors and nurses in hospitals?

Before we review the cost of training doctors and nurses in hospitals, let‘s remind ourselves about the criticality of their work. When a patient arrives at the hospital with a critical condition, it‘s the first 20 minutes that make a big difference.

Doctors and nurses at the emergency ward of the hospital make key decisions during those first 20 minutes, and these decisions can influence whether the patient will recover or succumb! That‘s how important the job of doctors and nurses is.

Such a critical job requires specialized training, and that‘s costly! A high-fidelity training mannequin can cost $250,000, as you can read in “Healthcare treatment, training reaches new heights with VR”.

How VR simulators are helping hospitals and doctors

VR simulators are helping doctors and nurses in hospitals in various ways, e.g.:

  • Training doctors using cadavers is effective, however, cadavers are expensive. VR headsets are cheaper, moreover, businesses can amortize the total cost of the VR solution they buy.
  • Hospitals using VR simulators to train doctors don‘t have to spend time and money on preparation and clean-up like they do when they use cadavers.
  • VR simulators also make it easy for trainee doctors and nurses to go through the training multiple times.
  • There are rare types of surgeries, and it‘s hard to train doctors on them. However, VR simulators can help since the organization can design training modules once and use them repeatedly.
  • Trainees from multiple locations can benefit from training using VR simulators since they can participate in virtual operating rooms built using VR.

You can read more about this in “Virtual-reality simulations offer medical residents hands-on practice”.

The market for VR in the healthcare sector

The demand for VR is growing in the healthcare sector, and the following statistics illustrate this:

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Estimates vary, however, experts agree that the growth potential of VR in healthcare is high.

Examples of VR healthcare simulator platforms

Let‘s now review a few examples of VR healthcare simulator platforms, e.g.:

1. Oxford Medical Simulation

Oxford Medical Simulation provides VR healthcare simulators, and healthcare organizations can optimize their training process with these simulators. The platform is globally accessible, and Oxford Medical Simulation uses Oculus VR headsets.

There are simulators for medical, nursing, and pediatric disciplines. The simulator is interactive, and it adapts to user actions. Trainees receive personalized feedback, furthermore, they can see reports with performance metrics.

2. SimX

SimX uses both VR and AR, and the company claims that its solution costs only 1/10th of traditional mannequin simulation. It offers the key features of VR healthcare simulators, e.g., virtual patients, virtual environments, portability, and multiplayer-mode. SimX works on key VR platforms like HTC Vive, Gear VR, etc.

How to create a VR simulator for healthcare

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

1. Project scoping

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, and you can get guidance on it in “Project scope management: what it is and how to do it (in 6 steps)”.

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

I recommend that you use the Waterfall SDLC model for this since it has clearly defined phases, and you can conduct a thorough review after every phase. Read more about Waterfall in “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.

3. Build a project team

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 freelancer vs. a field expert team, and our guide “Freelance app development team 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.

Read How We Helped a Marketing Company to Build a Back-Office Custom Ads Dashboard

4. Formulate a development approach

I recommend that you use the following development approach:

  • Use managed cloud services like a 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 along 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 project

As 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 estimation covers the 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

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

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

I have explained these advantages in “10 top PaaS providers for 2019”.

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 Amazon Sumerian, i.e., the VR solution from Amazon to build the core features of VR simulation. It works with all prominent VR platforms, e.g.:

  • Oculus Go;
  • Oculus Rift;
  • HTC Vive;
  • HTC Vive Pro;
  • Google Daydream;
  • Lenovo Mirage.

You can also use it for Android and iOS devices. With Sumerian, you can build a virtual classroom, therefore, this solution is just the right one for you.

You can use the following resources to get the required guidance:

Amazon publishes the pricing plans for Sumerian 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 have different versions. This can be hard, however, Experitest provides a solution for this with its Mobile Device & Browser 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.
  • 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 Sumerian in the app.
  • Use Espresso and Experitest 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 Objective-C. This powerful language has many features, and most developers on Apple platforms know this.

You need to do the following:

  • Code the app using Xcode, i.e., the popular IDE for developing apps on Apple‘s platforms.
  • Integrate Amazon Sumerian in the code.
  • Test the app using XCTest and the Experitest 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 healthcare VR simulator?

A project to build a VR simulator for healthcare 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 the due diligence.

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