Introduction: Given the need to improve communication between physicians and patients, we assessed whether a 360-degree Virtual Reality (360°VR) visualization platform for face-to-face neurosurgical consultations could enhance patient engagement and satisfaction.
Methods: For each patient, a personalized 360°VR rendering was created from their high-resolution MRI and/or CT scans and was presented using VR headsets (Fig. 1). In total, forty-seven and fourteen patients at UCLA and GWU, respectively, utilized the 360°VR and were prospectively surveyed with consent. One physician consulted all patients at each site. These patients completed eight 5-point Likert scale-based questions (1 = “strongly disagree” to 5 = “strongly agree”) comparing prior (without 360°VR) and current 360°VR consult experience. Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to calculate statistical significance.
Results: Most patients sought consultation for cerebrovascular pathology (91%), and 94% at UCLA and 100% at GWU “strongly agreed” that 360°VR helped to improve their understanding and overall satisfaction with the consultation (Fig. 2). At both institutions, patients felt overall satisfaction was significantly improved (p<0.05 UCLA and GWU) and that their neurosurgeon explained their conditions significantly clearer compared to prior consultations (p<0.001; UCLA).
Additionally, 91% (UCLA) and 93% (GWU) “strongly agreed”, and 9% (UCLA) and 7% (GWU) “agreed”, that 360°VR helped improve their comfort level with the proposed management options.
All patients (100%) agreed that they understood the different management options well enough to make an informed decision during the consultation, and 96% (UCLA) and 86% (GWU) agreed they selected a management option together with their neurosurgeon during the consultation.
Conclusions: We found enhanced patient engagement and satisfaction as a result of incorporating an immersive 360°VR technology into neurosurgical consultation. Findings from this multi-institutional study support the 360°VR technology as a potential tool to enhance patient education, engagement and satisfaction.
Patient Care: Proper patient education regarding complex neurosurgical conditions can be challenging, and historically data has shown that misinterpretation of either any general or patient-specific neurosurgical condition can not only lead to increased apprehension and overall dissatisfaction, but also decreased ability to make a truly informed decision due to lack of full understanding of the risks and benefits proposed treatment plan. In recent years, virtual reality (VR) has emerged as a promising tool in science and medicine. Our research showed that the 360°VR consultation was valuable in improving patient understanding of their complex cerebrovascular condition as well as their comfort level with selecting from among proposed management options. Patients also reported feeling part of a shared-decision making process with the surgeon during this consultation. Compared to prior consultations, patients were significantly more satisfied with their 360°VR consultation.
Learning Objectives: 1. To assess whether immersive VR technology is an effective tool for pre-surgical consultations.
2. To examine the extent to which VR technology can help neurosurgical patients visualize their pathology, understand proposed treatment plans, and ultimately enhancing their satisfaction.
3. To evaluate how 360°VR consultations can help patients feel more at ease with the proposed treatment plans and more involved in the shared decision-making process.