Digital Innovation Hub

Transformative and Immersive Initiatives to Improve the Well-being of Veterans

October was a significant month for the NextUp: XR Network.  In this latest event, NextUp: XR collaborated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning to highlight the work the VA Immersive team in the area of extended reality. The team welcomed Dr. Anne Lord Bailey, PharmD, BCPS, Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives Lab for the VA, to Mass General Brigham’s Assembly Row campus.

Dr. Bailey shared the tremendous success she and her team have had in the last three years during the COVID-19 pandemic. In such a short period, the Strategic Initiatives Lab (“Strat Lab” for short) has identified over 40 use cases, bringing extended reality (XR) to over 2,100 frontline staff across all 50 states and territories. The work of the Strat Lab is a playbook for anyone looking to advocate for XR in their organizations and the strategy is simple – heads in headsets.

Getting Heads Into Headsets

The concept of “heads in headsets” is one of the driving forces behind the Strat Lab’s success. During her talk, Dr. Bailey mentioned the powerful responses veterans had when they tried a headset for the first time. She spoke about one of the biggest barriers is the assumption that XR is a gimmick. To get individuals to change this mindset, she wants people, especially those who are skeptical, to try out XR technology. This approach has led to significant organic growth as skeptics quickly turn to advocates for XR. The numbers do not lie either. Within this short three-year window, 154 of the 172 VA healthcare sites have begun using XR to augment and improve their care delivery model. Of the 2,000 veterans impacted, 46% report a decrease in pain intensity, 37% report a decrease in anxiety, and they are reporting an increase in perceived happiness.

Receiving Overwhelmingly Positive Feedback on Capitol Hill

By heading to Congress, Dr. Bailey and the Strat Lab are making an impact on the larger landscape, too. They hosted a VR Demo Day on Capitol Hill, which saw over 80 attendees from Congress interact with XR technologies, rating the day a 9.6/10, and using words like “surreal”, “future”, “impactful”, and “amazing” to describe the event. Furthermore, the VA group hosted the VA Immersive Summit, convening over 750 participants to discuss XR technologies and concluded with excellent feedback as well. 100% of in-person responders, 92% of the virtual responders are likely or very likely to utilize VR for health care and 100% of in-person and 95% of virtual responders are likely or very likely to utilize VR for health care at home. These numbers are excellent and show the potential for XR in the coming years.

Interested in Learning More?

Dr. Bailey and her team have created the VA Immersive Playbook, which documents how to get started leveraging XR technologies and how to build an XR program. Visit the VA Immersive website and download a publicly-available version of their playbook here.

Join Mass General Brigham NextUp: XR for our next event focused on Home Hospital. To explore more: