This week was a big one for those interested in medical education. The team at the Royal London Hospital live streamed colon cancer surgery to thousands of people around the World. Live streaming surgery for educational purposes is not ‘new’. The difference here was that medical students and interested members of the public were viewing the procedure using their smartphones inserted into virtual reality (VR) headsets such as Google Cardboard which cost around €13.

VR headsets to watch first live streamed surgery in virtual reality

The surgery was filmed using two 360 degree cameras with multiple lenses allowing the viewer to move between different views to get the perfect viewing experience.

This is just a ‘taste’ of what VR can deliver in healthcare. Many expect that VR can increase access to specialist care in remote regions/countries – connecting experts with ‘people on the ground’ that can guide their work. Other proposed healthcare uses are to create an immersive therapeutic experience for those suffering from phobias and anxieties such as agoraphobia.

You can read more about this historic surgery here from the team behind the work. They also have a couple of videos that give you a sense of the experience.