Pharmacy U

Introducing…virtual reality in your pharmacy!

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Pharmacy, virtual reality, and flu shots. We’re shaking things up this year.

by Dr. Saleema Bhaidani BSc, BScPhm, PharmD, RPh   

Whole Health Pharmacy Partners is introducing technology into the pharmacy space to combat vaccine hesitancy and improve the patient experience of immunizations. With the use of a virtual reality (VR) headset, patients will become immersed in the video experience while being vaccinated – decreasing both the fear and perception of injection pain.

Our pharmacies are early adopters of innovation and with VR being incorporated into many different aspects of healthcare, pharmacy is no exception. Our pharmacists are committed to continually finding new, and downright cool, patient-focused solutions to improve immunization uptake – what we like to call “a modern approach to pharmacy.”

With curated playlists, patients can tailor their VR experience to what they want to see, from a relaxing day on the beach to a room full of puppies, all while getting vaccinated this flu season and ultimately protecting the ones they love.

Genesis of an idea

The way it came about is we had met with a company which specializes in virtual reality. The purpose was to get a feel for the technology and see if there was any way we could incorporate it into pharmacy. The idea came when the person we met with (as he was packing up to leave) told us that many people these days are purchasing VR headsets to watch Netflix! A much cheaper alternative to buying a TV, especially since the cost of a headset has dramatically decreased. It was from this almost side conversation that  the idea came about. Why not just play a YouTube video of cute animals to distract someone from the site of a needle?

The best response we’ve gotten so far from this idea was from the pharmacist whose daughter is in our video. We asked him if he had heard of virtual reality and he said, “Yes of course, I have a headset at home. My girls love watching roller-coaster videos.” When we presented our idea to him, his first response was “Why didn’t I think of that?”. We loved his reaction because it essentially summed up our thought behind the idea – innovative, yet so simple. This will be our first time doing something like this and we expect it to be a real winner. We have already come across a clinic in Brazil which has incorporated this idea into their practice with much success. This will be the first time, to our knowledge, that this will be incorporated into pharmacy.  Another example of how technology is disrupting pharmacy.

Dr. Saleema Bhaidani BSc, BScPhm, PharmD, RPh  is Director of Pharmacy Innovation & Professional Affairs with Whole Health Pharmacy Partners.