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. 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:

Health Care Technology | Research and Innovation | Education & Training

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...

Month of the Military Child 2021 Infographic

Publication
3/30/2021

This infographic from the Military Kids Connect program supports Month of the Military Child 2021 and promotes the theme Celebrating the Mighty.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Mobile Apps

Month of the Military Child Toolkit 2021

Publication
3/30/2021

This toolkit from the Connected Health Branch's Military Kids Connect program supports the celebration of Month of the Military Child 2021.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Mobile Apps

Health Technologies for Service Members and Families

Publication
3/8/2021

This guide from the Connected Health Branch provides a brief overview to service members and military families on the digital health tools available to support them.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Mobile Apps | Telehealth Program

Health Technologies for Patients

Publication
3/8/2021

This chart from the Connected Health Branch gives health care providers an easy reference to identify digital health tools to support MHS beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Mobile Apps | Telehealth Program

Guide to Digital Health Technology

Publication
3/8/2021

This guide from the Connected Health Branch provides a brief overview of digital health technology available from the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Mobile Apps | Telehealth Program

Prescription for Connected Health Interactive

Publication
3/8/2021

This interactive prescription sheet from the Connected Health Branch enables providers to recommend MHS digital health technology to their patients.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Mobile Apps | Telehealth Program

TRL Assessment 2020

Publication
9/22/2020

Document that describes the technology readiness level of an agency

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology

Provider Resilience Toolkit Overview

Publication
9/17/2020

Overview of the digital health resources and tools available from the Defense Health Agency supporting provider resilience.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology

Provider Resilience Self Care Guide

Publication
9/17/2020

Tips and recommendations for health care providers on self-care to promote resilience and reduce stress.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology

Provider Resilience Three Steps to Self Care

Publication
8/6/2020

This infographic outlines three primary steps in supporting self care and resilience in health care providers.

Recommended Content:

Health Care 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

Virtual Health Patient FAQs

Publication
6/19/2020

Frequently asked questions for patients on the use of virtual health technology to receive health care.

Recommended Content:

Telehealth Program | Health Care Technology

Virtual Health Myth vs Fact

Publication
6/19/2020

Review of the myths and facts on the use of virtual health technology to deliver health care.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Telehealth Program

Virtual Health Provider FAQs

Publication
6/19/2020

Frequently asked questions for health care providers on the use of virtual health technology in clinical practice.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Telehealth Program

Adobe Connect Guidance for Patients

Publication
4/1/2020

A brief guide for MHS beneficiaries on best practices in using Adobe Connect for virtual health care visits with their provider.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Mobile Apps | Telehealth Program
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 05, 2022

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.