Are Virtual Reality Healthcare Games the Next Money-Makers?

Will insurance companies cover virtual reality healthcare games? In this clip from “The Virtual Opportunities Show” on Motley Fool Live, recorded on March 15Motley Fool contributors Travis Hoium and Jose Najarro discuss the opportunity, along with the challenges, to leverage virtual reality in healthcare.

Travis Hoium: Medical applications is one thing in VR that is very well-known to be very impactful. The question is, how in the world do you make money on it? Because, it’s not a line item for insurance companies, so there’s no real way to pay for it, but the stories out there are crazy. We worked with a therapy location here locally that had stories. They were just VR testing. They had one guy who had a card who would bring stuff in and just try things out. There was a patient who was in so much pain and who could only stand for 30 seconds. Well, they put her in fruit ninja and she played for like two minutes standing up and didn’t even know because time passes differently. Your body interacts differently. You can think about range of motion things. My grandpa had surgery and he has got to do these armband things over the door. Instead of doing that, why isn’t it a game where they’re trying to click balls to the beat of music or something like that, and you’re inadvertently doing exercises that are helping your medical recovery? I’m not surprised that there’s a lot of activity in this. The question that I have going forward for these companies is, are you going to be able to make it into a business that’s going to be sustainable somehow? Because that’s really the problem in the medical space is, who’s paying the bills? I say that as I wish there was a better answer, but right now it’s insurance companies and the government has a role in that as well. But, that’s a really big hurdle. I’m happy to see companies getting investment and making the investment and time and energy into building these things.

José Najarro: If I could jump in really quick, I do think one of the biggest changes would be also just the generations that are going to be using this. For example, for my grandma right now, it would be very hard for me to give her my phone to play. She would probably not know what to do with it. But maybe, for example, when my parents become grandparents, they’ve already been in this technological trend that will be easier for them to be open to that ability of using some form of game treatment or just some form of technology like that for health benefits.

Houm: I will say one thing, and this is from personal experience. VR is one thing and AR will be the same. If the experience is designed correctly, it doesn’t matter your age. We had experienced putting people over 100 years old in VR headsets. It’s just amazing. A lot of times grandparents would come in and think they are bringing their kids and we would trick the grandparents into doing something and, they’re like, “I thought I was bringing the kids here to have fun” but had a blast. That is one thing that will be interesting to see because I do think there are applications where you’re right, Jose, my grandma couldn’t work the phone in the same way that my son can. But, she could do therapeutics or mental health things with VR if the experience is designed correctly. That’s easier said than done. The opportunity is there, and that could be really exciting for this space.

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