South London and Maudsley FT launches AR and VR for needle phobia and anxiety

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust has launched augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications to support people experiencing needle phobia and anxiety.  

The new technology will be introduced by the trust’s Digital Innovation Team in partnership with the vaccination team and other clinical teams to help people with fear of medical procedures involving injections or needles.  

Previously deployed across South London and Maudsley’s vaccination sites during the Covid-19 pandemic, the new technology will also be used to assist people suffering from a range of anxiety disorders, as well as phobias.  

Within the South London and Maudsley statement, the organisation highlights that its Digital Innovation Team has been awarded matched funding by NHS Digital to pursue AR and VR innovation efforts within their portfolio.  

Milos Kresojevic, Senior Innovation Architect, South London and Maudsley NHS FT, commented on the use of the new technology: “We are now starting to develop our own VR applications specifically for mental health and expand our portfolio in this area. 

“We are passionate about using technology which we know will have a direct impact on patient care – this is really exciting work which has huge potential to change lives.” 

Stuart MacLellan, Acting Chief Information Officer, South London and Maudsley NHS FT, added: “We are working to deliver our strategic aim to provide outstanding mental health care, as outlined in our five-year strategy Aiming High; Changing Lives.  

“Our digital strategy is vital part of this, which includes harnessing digital innovations, reducing digital exclusion and enabling people to adopt technology to improve our services. Embracing and using AR/VR to its fullest potential is a huge step forward for us and we are proud to supporting the trust’s strategy.” 

HTN recently wrote a feature article on how immersive technology is being used, exploring use cases from across health and care.

In other news, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare launched a new VR film designed to help staff and other healthcare professionals understand the effects of patients suffering from delirium.