Conference: How Virtual Reality Is Transforming Healthcare?

The conference at Notman House on November 23, 2016, was an opportunity to explore the future of Virtual Reality (VR) in healthcare as well as its applications in learning, medical interventions, and clinical evaluations. International and Canadian speakers unpacked the concepts, recent research, and explored the future of VR in the health sector.


Virtual Reality has advanced rapidly in the past couple of years, it is capturing the imagination of millions — yet the technology is still very new, in its infancy.

Much of the excitement about VR seems to be generated by the gaming community. But VR isn’t just about gaming. VR is affecting the way medical professionals train, diagnose, and treat. VR is helping enhance professional training: a neurosurgeon can navigate brain structures before surgery; students immerse into a drug to understand it on the cellular level. Virtual reality has already proved useful in neuroscience, behavioral science and clinical psychology helping treat phobias, pain and Post-traumatic stress disorders.

Researchers at Stanford University have shown that VR technology is becoming so incredibly immersive that the brain processes it in much the same way it does real-life experiences. In the near future smell and touch could very well become part of the virtual experience as well. In an industry such as healthcare, the potential seems open-ended.

So what are the advantages of virtual reality in healthcare? There are several and the half day seminar has been looking to showcase VR tools that are related to medical/surgical training, clinical assessment and intervention, and preventative medicine/counseling.


8:00-8:30 am : Welcome/breakfast

8:30-9 am: Introduction/History of virtual reality (Keynote)

  • Philippe Fuchs, head of the research team Réalité Virtuelle & Réalité Augmentée (RV&RA) at the Centre de Robotique of the Ecole des Mines ParisTech. (In French)

9:00-10:45 am: Virtual reality and treatment
This panel will look at how immersive virtual worlds can provide new avenues for the targeting understanding and treatment of cognitive, psychological, motor and functional disorders. It will also look how VR is used to educate people to make positive changes about their health which will reduce the risk of illnesses, many of which are preventative. How VR can help address certain type of surgical procedures?

  • Stéphane Bouchard, creator of the Laboratoire de cyberpsychologie at Université du Québec en Outaouais.(In French)
  • Emmanuel Durand, member of the research team of the SAT/CHU Sainte-Justine living lab.(In French)
  • David Schacter,Chief Operating Officer at Jintronix (In English)
  • Q&A

10:45-11 am: coffee break

11-11:45 am: Virtual reality and medical training
This panel will look at how VR can be applied to clinical, surgical, team and interpersonal skill training. As a means of training healthcare professionals, VR is used in medical schools and hospitals, enabling medical students and medical staff alike to acquire knowledge and understanding. In VR environments medical students can perform procedures but in a safe and controlled setting. They can make mistakes and learn from them with no risk to the patients. These skills can be subsequently applied in the real world.

  • Thomas Talbot, Principal Medical Expert, USC Institute for Creative Technologies (In English)
  • Q&A

11:45 am -12:45 pm: The economic promise and opportunities of virtual reality
VR is the fourth major platform shift (after PC, web and mobile). According to research firm Goldman Sachs, the market for VR healthcare could reach $5.1bn by 2025. The last presentation will focus on the promising economic aspect of VR. How is it possible to benefit from it? What is the situation in Montreal? What are the perspectives and possible evolutions for the health sector? What are the technology limitations, costs? Do you need integrated teams? What are the business models?

  • Frédéric Guarino, VR Valley Network Montreal (In French)
  • Dr. Susan Rogers, project manager of the eHealth Initiative at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (In English)
  • Q&A

12:45-1 pm: Conclusion/Q&A

1-2 pm: Presentation of the technology by Minority Media and Schoolû
Minority Media is an established studio committed to cutting-edge VR game development. Founded by Vander Caballero – a leading figure in Canada’s video games industry and a pioneer in VR – Minority’s first title on the platform is Time Machine VR, a time travel adventure game about scientifically accurate prehistoric creatures. Our mission is to craft memorable games that set the standard for VR entertainment.

Founded in 2015, Schoolû designs and develops Canada’s only virtual reality learning programs approved by school boards. Supported by a team of game industry veterans with decades of combined award-winning experience, Schoolû applies the best of virtual game design know-how to ground-breaking didactic content to enhance learning for children of all ages. Schoolû’s virtual educational programs are flexible and scalable, making them easy to adapt to students’ evolving needs.

Moderator: Matthieu Dugal, journalist at Radio Canada


The WFSJ would like to thank the conference’s partners for their much-appreciated support to help make this event possible:


consulat-francais institut-francais

This event is supported by the Consulate General of France in Quebec and the French Institute as part of the Rendez-Vous Science & Society: towards a Digital Society.

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