Based in neuroscience research, NurtureVR combines prenatal education, pain management, postpartum education and mindfulness in a unique program designed to support women through their third and "fourth" trimesters
Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and BehaVR today announced the launch of NurtureVR, a first-of-its-kind program for expectant mothers that uses virtual reality (VR) to augment prenatal education, pain management related to pregnancy, mindfulness, and support women through postpartum care.
By combining accessible, immersive technology with compassionate, mindful care, NurtureVR brings innovation to support women as they journey through pregnancy and into motherhood. NurtureVR will be launched in a pilot program at Hoag next month and made broadly available to healthcare providers and health plans across the nation in November 2020.
"We are delighted to partner with BehaVR to create and bring NurtureVR to new and expectant mothers across the nation," said Allyson Brooks, M.D., the Ginny Ueberroth Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair of Hoag Women’s Health Institute. "This program was developed by women for women. It incorporates the insights of women who are pregnant or were recently pregnant to ensure that it meets needs that are as diverse as the experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood."
NurtureVR is built upon decades of research into VR’s ability to mitigate pain related to pregnancy, create experiential learning environments, reduce stress, and improve wellbeing. It is designed to be offered to women beginning in their third trimesters. Using VR headsets in their homes, women access 14 weeks’ worth of educational material, meditation capabilities and other immersive experiences, helping them with diverse topics including stress and pain management. 3D ultrasound images can be uploaded into the system to ensure personalized experiences. The program continues for an additional eight weeks after the baby is born with tools that cover issues such as maternal-baby bonding, partner intimacy, stress management, and hormonal and emotional changes.
"Hoag knows firsthand how beneficial VR technology can be in helping patients with pain management, patient education and mindfulness," said Robert Louis, M.D., Chief of Neurosurgery and the Empower360 Endowed Chair for Skull Base and Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery, Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag. "We have incorporated VR technology to assist surgeons with operations since 2015."
"NurtureVR combines our decades of caring for women and years of VR experience with the perspective and technology of BehaVR, which has allowed us to create a program that is unlike anything else we’re seeing in therapeutic VR or in women’s health," he added. "The idea of NurtureVR is that virtual reality can serve as a lifelong tool, something women can carry with them through the ‘fourth trimester,’ that eight-week period after a baby is born, and beyond. We believe that women will be able to draw on the meditation, mindfulness, stress management and education they experienced through VR throughout their motherhood experience."
VR works by engaging all four systems of learning in the brain:
The cognitive system, involved in processing information in the pre-frontal cortex
The experiential system, including vision, touch and hearing
The emotional system, for empathy, love and bonding
The behavioral system, which helps support feelings of reward and motivation
"VR has already been proven as a highly effective tool for patient education, pain management and mental health and wellness, but we believe we have just scratched the surface of the value it can have in healthcare and on patients’ lives and experiences," said Pete Buecker, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of BehaVR. "BehaVR is excited to partner with Hoag to bring NurtureVR to women as they journey through pregnancy and into early motherhood, and we look forward to exploring how this technology can continue to be expanded and refined to support new moms and their babies."
The NurtureVR experience can be customized and individualized for each woman, allowing expectant mothers to experience different environments, sounds and visuals, based on their preferences and input. The individual journey is continuously refined and personalized with BehaVR’s Dynamic Experience Engine. This includes everything from a mother’s and baby’s skin tones, to the landscapes a woman sees, to the way a woman chooses to hold her baby while breastfeeding.
"We believe that VR is going to become standard for maternal education, pain management related to pregnancy, emotional health and support for the coming generation of parents, and we are pleased to be on the leading edge of this trend," said Dr. Brooks. "We recognize that healthy moms lead to healthy babies, and VR is an exciting new tool to help get us there. I envision mothers developing a relationship with the VR experience that allows them to feel better about themselves, to reduce feelings of angst and confusion and to remind them to take care of themselves."
About Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian
Hoag is a nonprofit, regional health care delivery network in Orange County, California, that treats more than 30,000 inpatients and 480,000 outpatients annually. Hoag consists of two acute-care hospitals – Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, which opened in 1952, and Hoag Hospital Irvine, which opened in 2010 – in addition to nine health centers and 13 urgent care centers. Hoag has invested $261 million in programs and services to support the underserved community within the past five years, including areas like mental health, homelessness, transportation for seniors, education, and support for single mothers. Hoag is a designated Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Hoag offers a comprehensive blend of health care services that includes five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag’s affiliate, Hoag Orthopedic Institute, which consists of an orthopedic hospital and four ambulatory surgical centers. Hoag has been named one of the Best Regional Hospitals in the 2019 - 2020 U.S. News & World Report. For an unprecedented 23 years, residents of Orange County have chosen Hoag as one of the county’s best hospitals in a local newspaper survey. Visit www.hoag.org for more information.
BehaVR is advancing health care access and delivery and improving patient outcomes and experiences through the pioneering use of virtual reality (VR), cloud computing, and machine learning. Founded by leading clinicians, healthcare veterans and technology innovators, BehaVR has a proprietary technology platform that enables a personalized and progressive treatment approach grounded in decades of neuroscience research and designed to educate, motivate, and activate individuals to make long-term, sustained improvements to their health. For more information, visit www.behavr.com.
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