Campaign Tech Awards: Winner, Tech for Good

Orchard displayed creativity and a real sensitivity to its environment when it used virtual reality to improve anxiety levels in cystic fibrosis patients.

‘Distraction Therapy Virtual Reality’ by Orchard Media and Events for All Wales Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre

Orchard worked with the All Wales Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre to assess the effects of virtual reality (VR) in reducing its patients’ anxiety and stress. As well as anxiety, cystic fibrosis patients can experience breathlessness and pain, so the aim was for VR to be a pleasant distraction from their treatment.

It needed to be a simple device that was easy to use for healthcare professionals with no experience of VR. Orchard developed a closed system where the VR headset and the experiences were all controlled by a tablet with no wifi needed. The tablet also collated data so the doctors could monitor the patient’s anxiety/stress levels pre- and post-VR experience and store the data effectively.

Orchard created six experiences to cover a wide demographic, all produced in 4K with a static 360°-camera (to avoid motion sickness). Each experience was 7.5 minutes long and was filmed documentary-style so that patients felt like participants and not just viewers. It was a closed system, so users could only see approved content. Immersing 80-year-old Beryl in a high-adrenaline rollercoaster experience might not help her stress and anxiety…

There were three trials and the results were astonishing – on average, there was a 75% reduction in patients’ anxiety when they used the VR experience. By one measure (anxiety and stress about performing lung function), there was an improvement in 100% of the patients.

Our judges said: "This is brilliant… A good use of tech with an awareness of its environment."

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