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Applying virtual reality to pharmaceutical development

The magic of virtual reality (VR) is that it can transport you anywhere, as gamers are starting to know. In addition, many retail firms are starting to imagine what VR can do for commerce.

How can pharmaceuticals and healthcare harness this vision?

With virtual reality there is a strong potential in training, education, and design collaboration. Virtual reality allows the user
to view virtual spaces with extreme fidelity, and workers learn faster and retain more information than passive-based learning methodologies. A number of healthcare organizations are using virtual reality for training in place of sending workers on-site for training. This also reduces travel time and costs. When scaled to a large global workforce, the return on investment of virtual reality in training environments will be significant.

Virtual reality is an important driver of innovation in the healthcare industry. There are already several healthcare areas where this technology is already being used successfully, such as enhanced patient care and better knowledge transfer during training of healthcare providers. In the pharmaceutical and healthcare context, virtual reality technology allows users to take a ride through the body’s blood stream, see a drug’s mechanism of action up close and personal, or feel what it’s like to live with the symptoms of a disease.

Examples of the application of virtual reality in pharmaceuticals and healthcare include:

Drug research

Pharmaceutical companies are adopting virtual reality solutions for drug research, such as using the technology in target
interaction and prediction studies. This enables researchers to use virtual reality to understand which molecule will correctly affect the disease target. Virtual reality can help to improve the efficiency of pre-developed phases of a particular drug and to enable researchers visualize the interaction between molecules more clearly; these are steps that help scientists to re-engineer and redesign the molecules.


Virtual reality is being applied when seeking high-level control and operational precision. This includes training operators in
the use of complex equipment with the help of virtual reality, and facilitating practice sessions for equipment operations to make on-the-job training more effective.

Pharmaceutical marketing

Some pharmaceutical companies are using virtual reality application to show 360 degrees three-dimensional animation to showcase how the molecules interacted with specific body tissues. Doctors can also use virtual reality solutions to help their patients understand how a particular operation is going to be performed. This may aid in relaxing the patients and their relatives.


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Virtual reality enables personnel to access and interact with different scenarios remotely, facilitating distance learning or training at the place of work.

Note of caution

Despite the compelling features of virtual reality, a number of challenges exist, such as validation of clinical efficacy, cost, accessibility and usability issues, technical capabilities, and acceptance.

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