Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Revamped Virtual Med Center Makes Health Care Feel Like a Video Game

Image of Picture of the Virtual Medical Center. Click to open a larger version of the image. The relaunched Virtual Medical Center leverages emerging technologies such as virtual reality to increase and improve accessibility, convenience, and efficiency of medical care for all registered users (Photo by: Photo Dept. of Veterans Affairs Virtual Medical Center)

Recommended Content:

Technology | Research and Innovation

Years ago, going to a medical appointment required driving across town to see a doctor or other provider in person.

But these days, military veterans and active-duty service members can go online, choose a customized avatar, and virtually visit a doctor, meet with therapists, or consult about their care from a variety of locations beyond the clinic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Virtual Medical Center offers patients a video game-style experience. It features a virtual “Heroes Beach” where patients can “sit” around a bonfire in front of a panoramic view of the sea at sunset, sharing stories with others in a warm and inviting setting.

The VMC is currently available to both veterans and service members and their families.

Initially launched in 2015, the VMC platform provides patients, providers, and staff a virtual, interactive clinical setting where they can access information on specific topics in 2D as well as the option to virtually interact with other users individually or in group settings in 3D. An updated web version of the VMC is being launched at the end of the summer, which will allow users the full 3D experience without having to download anything onto their computers.

The expanded version comes at a time of increased demand for telehealth and other remote services. It includes new resources and innovative options that leverage current technologies like virtual reality to improve accessibility, provide convenience, and expand efficiency of medical care to all registered users. It also includes the new Performance Health and Wellness Center, a new clinic within the VMC that will offer synchronous and asynchronous educational programs for veterans and active-duty service members on cardiovascular disease risk factors. 

“It is very exciting to be able to build upon existing resources to bridge prevention efforts across the Department of Defense and the VA,” said Patty Deuster, executive director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science in Bethesda, Maryland.

In the 3D mode, users can interact in and explore the VMC in the form of an avatar they select and customize to their choosing. Then, they can navigate through the different environments by teleporting their avatar as though they were in a video game. They can share their experience with colleagues, providers, friends, or family in their contact lists.

Registered users can access a series of clinics focusing on general health topics, specific medical conditions, disease management, or well-being. It also offers one-on-one consultations with providers or private group meetings, as well as more relaxing spaces for reflection, therapy, or conversation.

For example, in addition to primary care, mental and behavioral health, pain management, post-deployment, and palliative care clinics, there are group therapy and counseling rooms, reflection rooms, and a chapel where patient avatars can meet with therapists, counselors, and chaplains.

In between sessions, they can congregate at the "Warriors’ Café," in the VMC lobby, to mingle with others over coffee or teleport to the “Cybrary,” — a cyber library and research hub filled with educational material on medical questions, diseases, illnesses, etc. These include interactive media content like streaming videos, documents, and websites available at the easy click of a button.

The Virtual Educations Training Assistant, known as VETA, is also available to answer questions on medications, symptoms, and disease management as well as to provide links to informational media catalogued in the VA system.

“The wellness center will simplify information for the military population and ensure access to trustworthy, military-relevant health education resources accessible from anywhere, 24 hours each day, and seven days each week,” said Don Shell, acting director of health services policy and oversight, and director of disease, disease prevention, disease management, and population health policy and oversight.

Regardless of which mode users select, they will have access to many features including public, group, and private text chat and Voice Over IP channels through which to collaborate and communicate. Topic-based lobbies and lounges allow patients to meet with others to discuss health topics and mutual interests.

From amphitheaters to private offices to high-tech conference rooms to the virtual beach, the VMC has event venues to suit nearly everyone’s needs.

You also may be interested in...

Defense Health Agency celebrates seven years of service

Article
10/1/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place holding a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery

Seven ways DHA has improved military readiness over the years.

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency | Coronavirus | Military Health System Transformation | Technology | Global Health Engagement | About TRICARE | Total Force Fitness

TOL Patient Portal Secure Messaging

Fact Sheet
9/29/2020

TRICARE Online Patient Portal (TOLPP) Secure Messaging (SM) provides Military Health System patients who receive care at a military treatment facility or clinic access to a robust messaging capability, allowing authorized patients the ability to securely communicate with their health care team.

Recommended Content:

Technology

DoD's assistive technology office helps keep workers on the job

Article
9/23/2020
Man standing at computer in office

Assistive technology services aid uniformed, civilian employees

Recommended Content:

Technology

TRL Assessment 2020

Publication
9/22/2020

Document that describes the technology readiness level of an agency

Recommended Content:

Technology

DoD pharmacy innovation improves patient safety and convenience

Article
9/22/2020
A pharmacy technician opens a locker holding prescription medication

Pick up your prescription when it’s convenient for you

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Technology | Information for Patients: TRICARE Pharmacy Program

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth's iTClamp wins MHS research award

Article
9/11/2020
Image of a plastic clamp on someone's arm

“Hemorrhage control of bleeding is one our biggest problems in military medicine."

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | | Combat Support

DHA proves power of collaboration in medical IT war games

Article
8/18/2020
Men and women in room sitting in front of their laptops

Open-source EHR proves worth in Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Technology

TBI Hot Topics Bulletin May 2020

Publication
8/4/2020

Are you a busy health care provider? Not enough time to keep up with research? Stay informed with the TBI Hot Topics Bulletin. We track the latest TBI scientific studies, advances, and discoveries most relevant to health care providers. This issue covers the first quarter of calendar year 2020.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | TBI Provider Resources | TBICoE Research | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources | Research and Innovation

Applying COVID-19 innovations to the future of MHS medicine

Article
7/14/2020
Virtual health visits are expanding in response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 has already irrevocably changed how we deliver care and will continue to do so.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation

Defending the Homeland: New Invention Helps Protect Healthcare Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Article
7/9/2020
Image of medical personnel in hospital room

"[T]he team realized that while the CAMIC would function well for tracheostomy, its true use would be for intubation..."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation

USU Genetics Researchers Receive National Award for Cancer Genome Work

Article
7/7/2020
Photos of two men in suits

The Cancer Genome Atlas Project began in 2006 as a joint effort between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation

Army & Navy providers team up to save soldier’s life

Article
7/6/2020
Military personnel sitting around a table, exhibiting medical items

ECMO is a heart-lung bypass system that circulates blood through an external artificial lung, oxygenates it, and delivers it back into the bloodstream.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Technology

COVID-19 leads to innovation in military health care practices

Article
7/1/2020
Man in lab coat and mask prepares sample for COVID-19 testing.

MHS thinks outside of the box to bring care to patients during pandemic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation

Navy Care virtual health app wins innovation award

Article
6/12/2020
Soldier in front of a computer monitor

Navy Care offers a live, virtual visit with a clinician — from the patient's smartphone, laptop, or computer.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Research and Innovation | Technology

WRNMMC Recognizes Medical Researchers

Article
6/10/2020
Military personnel stand in front of window holding their awards

15 winners of Research & Innovation Month awards announced

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 15

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.