Designed to provide clinicians first-person perspective on the challenges patients may face in seeking health care, the selected project will receive one year of development services worth $100k from the Spencer S. Eccles Family Endowment to build a next generation training program.
We’ve all heard the proverb “Before judging someone, walk a mile in their shoes.” While it may not involve walking a full mile, a group of clinicians at the University of Utah are proposing a new Virtual Reality (VR) program to give learners a chance to go on that journey in a virtual setting and gain perspective about the challenges patients may face in their journey to receive health care.
Now, they’ll be able to take the project from an idea to (virtual) reality.
Selected as the winners of the inaugural VR4Health Sciences Education grant program, the officially titled “Using a Cultural Humility Framework to address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) through Virtual Reality” project will receive funding for one year of design and development, totaling close to $100,000 worth of services. This program is supported by the Spencer S. Eccles Family Endowment, a fund established in 1977 for the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.
Known as Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), these are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes. Understanding these conditions and their unique relationship to each patient can be critical to a patient’s wellbeing.
“Leading healthcare organizations have prioritized interdisciplinary education to mitigate health disparities because clinicians lack proficiency in addressing SDoH,” explains Nancy Allen, PhD, ANP-BC, and project proposal leader. “Virtual Reality provides an effective method for delivering content to address cultural humility and has demonstrated improved efficacy in long-term retention of SDoH.”
Launched in February of 2022, the VR4 Health Sciences Education is a collaborative program between the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library and The Therapeutic Games & Applications Lab (The GApp Lab) at the University of Utah. It seeks proposals for medical applications and simulation projects to be developed in virtual reality.
“We are excited to use the Spencer S. Eccles Family Endowment to fund this project that advances our understanding of the social determinants of health,” said Catherine Soehner, Associate Dean and Director, Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. “Its wide applicability is advantageous as it is a topic that will be useful for all learners throughout the University.”
As part of this experience, grantees will receive training and experience in navigating the software development pipeline. Beginning in the Summer 2022 Semester, they will work alongside and meet regularly with designers and developers at The GApp Lab to establish the vision for the project and develop content of the proof-of-concept.
Once completed, the beta version of the project will be uploaded to the Eccles Health Sciences Library VR Repository, and library specialists will provide support in disseminating the tool and making it accessible within other hospital and educational settings. In time, the program could become a standalone module available for incorporation into any classroom setting.
About the Spencer S. Eccles Health Science Library
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library serves University of Utah Health Care, the Intermountain West’s only academic health sciences center. The Library is recognized locally and nationally as a leader of intellectual exploration and as a catalyst for innovative discovery, and contributes to the success of health professionals, students, researchers and the community.
About the Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab (The GApp Lab)
The Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab (The GApp Lab) is collaborative effort between University of Utah Health and the Entertainment Arts Engineering Program at the University of Utah to research and develop meaningful ways to introduce clinically validated and playful video games, and virtual reality-based applications into hospitals, clinics, and at-home settings. The Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab (The GApp Lab) is a division of the Center for Medical Innovation at the University of Utah.