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UCHealth leaps into AR for patient engagement and experience

Patient distraction therapy, long-used by UCHealth with virtual reality along with other techniques, and joy are framing the Aurora, Colorado-based health system’s first in-app augmented reality experience.

Beginning this fall, an individual or visitor can click a button within their UCHealth mobile app and become directed to open their device’s camera on a trigger point which will create a dog virtually stand out through AR in the waiting room. Patients can select a dog they prefer, maybe even name the pup, and build relationships them if they appear in the area.

This first use case is merely the start of AR in the UCHealth app. The business could keep building on augmented experiences, in accordance with Nicole Caputo, senior director of patient experience and innovation, who’s leading your time and effort. Caputo sat down with Healthcare IT News to talk about how it’ll all get together, and what future use cases could be wanted to patients among others.

AR ‘perfect extension’ to a mobile-first strategy

UCHealth includes a mobile-first strategy. Caputo said medical system had designed its native app to function as one place for several mobile-based patient engagement.

“The thing that is included with us everywhere we go it’s our phone. In the event that you go through the data around people utilizing their phones, from from retail to food, to everything, right?” said Caputo.

“Especially through the pandemic. Those numbers just skyrocketed, and we wish to be there in exactly the same place for the patients and offer the largest level of convenience for them.”

The UCHealth mobile app has already established a lot more than 500,000 users within the last 90 days. It offers an individual portal, indoor facility navigation, wellness features and much more, plus a va tool.

“We’re adding increasingly more wellness features to it because we want it to function as one place it is possible to go daily never to just send a note to your provider and check your test outcomes, but additionally just enhance your life, enhance your health insurance and lifestyle, and discover the thing you need merely to be out and become active inside our awesome state,” Caputo explained. “So that’s our ‘why’ on what augmented reality fits into that.”

AR may be the “perfect extension,” she said.

“The technology has come quite a distance before couple of years,” said Caputo. “We’ve used it previously for some things such as print advertising and utilizing a QR code and sort of scanning over and having a video pop-up on your own phone. So, very simplistic uses previously which were more mobile web-based.”

UCHealth plans to help keep building AR experiences, in both iOS and Android, that also educate patients and improve overall connectivity making use of their health.

“Actually having the ability to see something in your environment to create what to life inside your environment, we’re really excited,” be it prescription labels or traditional educational pamphlets, said Caputo.

By keeping AR functionality integrated within the native UCHealth app, patients among others can access messaging along with other features there, without needing to toggle to other applications.

Building an AR platform to last

To create a nimble AR platform, UCHealth’s internal application development and experience teams will continue to work withDenver-based AR/VR agencyAugust Allen.

The dogs-in-waiting-room AR experience is slated to go live this October for testing, and after any kinks are exercised, UCHealth will need development in-house.

“It isn’t always right the very first time you go, and you also need to learn. You need to get people deploying it. You need to understand, you then need to pivot and ensure that you’re implementing it in the manner that makes probably the most sense,” said Caputo, noting she loves to say that “it builds out in October, and we’re just gonna continually increase it from there on out once we begin to integrate AR right into a large amount of what we do.”

With a web-based platform, you don’t have to initiate an app update to push out an AR trigger or content.

Her team can begin dealing with UCHealth’s trove of content important tools medical system employs to activate patients in studying and facing health challenges and circumstances bringing immersive and meaningful content to the communities they serve.

Whenever there are requests for new patient education flyers, her in-house agency and dev teams will ask, “Is it possible to translate that to AR? So how exactly does that look?” she said.

“So, it is needs to embed [AR] into a few of these day-to-day items that we do continuously.”

Putting patients in charge

Once AR technology is set up, UCHealth can go headlong into content development, amplifying patient stories and videos in the app.

“I believe too, just how we’ll desire to build it and just how we ought to build each one of these experiences, be it an event in virtual reality or augmented reality, is based on patient choice. We build our digital platforms to spotlight what’s best for the individual,” said Caputo.

This can imply that a newly diagnosed patient can control the peer patient story they’re engaging with, diving into one portion of the storyor switching to another part.

“We have to have the ability to permit the patient to easily switch to another thing, or switch to another area of the story. Escape everything together, find something new, therefore having the ability to have that variety and having sort of a catalog or perhaps a library of different alternatives is actually important,” she said.

Caputo explained that patient feedback on experiences, such as for example reports of dizziness or voiced preferences like musical choices, has been factored into UCHealth’s VR experiences. She said her teams learned that why is UCHealth’s virtual reality opportunities, useful for distraction therapy since 2017, most successful is choice.

“We’ve patients who which is in VR will say, ‘Hey, you understand, I’ve been through all of the content. I really like fishing or I must say i would like to execute a meditation.’ … We listen and we venture out and we discover that content,” she said.

UCHealth may also discontinue content predicated on patient feedback, Caputo said.

A rich library of experiences is essential to allow an individual to switch to some other part or another experience because in case a patient gets too overwhelmed, “we have been not doing our job,” she said.

“At this time, if we delivered that same patient story, it could be in a video, right? And you also could pause it, or you can transform it off. In AR, we are able to build it to be able to, during your phone, interact and you may quickly switch to another portion of the story or someplace else, and connect to it in different ways.”

“Also it makes it much more backwards and forwards, instead of just content being sent to you. So, that is the power of it. It honestly puts the individual in the driver’s seat to connect to it how they need.”

Sprint for success

For all those considering implementing augmented reality into patient experiences, Caputo suggests adopting a “sprint” mentality. It spent some time working effectively for UCHealth’s VR along with other digital media efforts.

“Really dive in using one use case to start out, and remain hyper centered on that,” she said, telling fine-tune it as you obtain feedback then build more experiences from there.

“With AR, there’s so much variability in what that you can do by just how much interactivity you select, I think you need to be hyper focused initially and add from there,” said Caputo. “Don’t make an effort to knock it from the park all at one time.”

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.

Healthcare IT News is really a HIMSS publication.

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