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...

Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program

Report
1/11/2021

S. 3159, SAC Report for FY 2019 , 115-290 , Pg. 210

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation

Improving Defense Health Program Medical Research Processes

Report
8/8/2017

A report from the Defense Health Board (DHB) that summarizes the findings and recommendations from its independent review of Improving Defense Health Program (DHP) Medical Research Processes.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Health Readiness

Continuing Education for Department of Defense Health Professionals

Report
11/24/2015

Continuing Education for Department of Defense Health Professionals Report

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation

Sustainment and Advancement of Amputee Care

Report
4/8/2015

This report provides Defense Health Board findings on amputee care and research in the Department of Defense.

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Technology

Ethical Guidelines and Practices for US Military Medical Professionals

Report
3/3/2015

Defense Health Board (DHB) report summarizing the findings and recommendations from the DHB's independent review on Ethical Guidelines and Practices for U.S. Military Medical Professionals

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Quality and Safety of Health Care (for Health Care Professionals)

Form Follows Function Pursuing a World Class System for Health

Report
2/1/2015

Form Follows Function: Pursuing a World-Class System for Health

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Access, Cost, Quality, and Safety

2013 MHS Innovation Report

Report
3/3/2014

2013 Military Health System Innovation Report. This report contains information about MHS innovations in clinical care, research and development, and healthcare management. It also provides an overview of the MHS Innovation Program and information on the future of MHS innovation.

Recommended Content:

| | | Access, Cost, Quality, and Safety | Technology

Dover Port Mortuary Independent Review Subcommittee Final Report

Report
2/27/2012

Defense Health Board: Dover Port Mortuary Independent Review Subcommittee Final Report

Recommended Content:

Quality and Safety of Health Care (for Health Care Professionals) | Research and Innovation

Dover Port Mortuary Independent Review Subcommittee Report Errata Sheet

Report
2/27/2012

Defense Health Board: Dover Port Mortuary Independent Review Subcommittee Report Errata Sheet

Recommended Content:

Quality and Safety of Health Care (for Health Care Professionals) | Research and Innovation

Battlefield Trauma Care Research Development Test and Evaluation Priorities

Report
6/14/2011

Defense Health Board: Battlefield Trauma Care Research Development Test and Evaluation Priorities

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation

Review of the Department of Defense Center for Deployment Health Research

Report
8/18/2010

Defense Health Board: Review of the Department of Defense Center for Deployment Health Research

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness Support | Research and Innovation

Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness Recommendation Memo

Report
6/4/2009

Defense Health Board: Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness Recommendation Memo

Recommended Content:

Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Research and Innovation

Design Plans for Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir

Report
5/1/2009

Defense Health Board: Design Plans for Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir

Recommended Content:

Access, Cost, Quality, and Safety | Research and Innovation

DHB Task Force Review of DoD Biodefense Infrastructure and Biological Research Portfolio

Report
4/29/2009

Defense Health Board: DHB Task Force Review of DoD Biodefense Infrastructure and Biological Research Portfolio

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation
Showing results 1 - 14 Page 1 of 1

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.