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First of its kind study into the impact of extended reality on UK healthcare launched

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18 May 2021

First of its kind study into the impact of extended reality on UK healthcare launched

A new report exploring the impact extended reality (XR) has on human health and the potential cost savings to the UK healthcare system has been launched by the XR Health Alliance today (Tuesday 18 May). It highlights the changing face of healthcare technologies, which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and how augmented reality and virtual reality is revolutionising the global healthcare market

Press contact: Nicky Swire | nicky.swire@shu.ac.uk

ImpactVR forest scene
ImpactVR forest scene

The Growing Value of XR in Healthcare in the UK report is the first study of its kind to explore the use of extended reality in the UK’s healthcare sector. Extended reality is the umbrella category that covers all forms of computer-altered reality, including augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR).

The report has been funded by Health Education England, UKRI and Rescape and developed in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University’s Impact VRLab, NIHR Mental Health MedTech Co-operative and XR Safety Initiative (XRSI).

It delves into use cases of XR in healthcare across a number of key application areas, including rehabilitation and physiotherapy, pain management, clinical mental health, arts and wellbeing and healthcare professional training. The report showcases the people and projects innovating in this space and demonstrates the health economics in clinical and non-clinical settings. 

Ben Williams, project lead at Care City, said: “I spent years working with people who weren’t able to leave their home. Their whole experience of life was the four walls surrounding them. I was able to use a VR headset to enable them to go to the beach or the park. Every time I talk to someone about VR they have another user case for this technology. We need someone to step up and take the lead on healthcare-based VR.”

Ivan Phelan, Sheffield Hallam’s Impact VRLab lead, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this report that is a first of its kind in exploring XR in the UK’s healthcare sector. The recommendations from this report will be a great benefit to others exploring this growing area.”

The report has found that a growing, world-class XR in healthcare market is emerging in the UK however, despite significant market potential, more evidence is needed to measure the benefits to patients and value to the healthcare system – in order to leverage wider funding and investment needed to grow a sustainable and thriving XR-in-healthcare sector in the UK. 

The findings will help government and public health services make informed decisions about what needs to be put in place to ensure the UK is in the best position possible to fully exploit the potential of XR in healthcare today and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes and the quality of people's lives into the future.

Neil Ralph, head of technology enhanced learning at Health Education England, said: “We are delighted to have been invited to contribute to this report on XR. The global pandemic has led to significant changes in the way health and care education is delivered with XR being at the heart of the training response. This report is a valuable addition to the body of evidence on XR in health and care and much needed within the sector as we begin to scale up the adoption of this valuable educational technology.”

As part of the report recommendations, a new XR in Healthcare Development Pipeline has been proposed which would see key stakeholders, such as NHSx, UKRI and others, work together to support a new Centre of Excellence for XR in Healthcare to cross sector collaboration across research, technology and healthcare to drive much needed early-stage R&D and help products and services scale at the level needed to reach the marketplace.

In this story

Explore the people, themes, departments and research centres behind this story

Press contact

Nicky Swire

Contact us

For help with a story or to find an expert

Email: pressoffice@shu.ac.uk
Phone: 01142 252811

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