Waya Health to Lead Study of Virtual Reality Health Care for Veterans

Press Release | Aug. 18, 2021

Wellovate LLC, a national leader in the clinical use of virtual reality (VR), today announced the launch of a groundbreaking initiative using its Waya Health platform to enhance the care provided to U.S. military veterans.

“We are extremely proud that we have the opportunity to collaborate with Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) and the VHA Extended Reality (VHA XR) Network to help prove the value of virtual reality in health care across its diverse facilities,” said Wellovate President Joe Morgan, MD. “We believe that our cutting-edge technology will bring better and safer care to veterans while helping the VHA reduce the costs of providing that care.”

“The goal of this pilot is to determine the utility of VR in falls risk assessments, neurological risk assessment, palliative care, procedural use, acute and/or chronic pain management, and anxiety,” Dr. Anne Lord Bailey, co-lead of the VHA XR Network and VHA Emerging Tech Clinical Specialist with VHA IE’s Diffusion of Excellence. “A key to innovation is collaboration, and we are grateful for industry collaborators like Waya Health that are eager to ensure veterans are given the opportunity to be the earliest adopters of tools that have the potential to transform the way we think about care delivery.”

Veterans and clinical staff in 12 VHA medical centers across the country will use wearable headsets loaded with Waya Health software developed to address the six critical medical use cases Dr. Bailey listed.

Through a previous, three-year evaluation of veterans using Waya Health’s virtual reality tools in both inpatient and long-term care settings at the Western North Carolina VA Health Care System (WNCVAHCS), in Asheville, N.C., the following was discovered:

  • 84% reported reduction in discomfort;
  • 89% reported reduction in stress;
  • 96% reported enjoying their experience; and
  • 97% said they would recommend it to their peers.

“The opportunities are limitless for virtual reality to assess, monitor, and help manage numerous diseases; reduce the use of risky medications like opioids and sedatives; and really improve the quality of life for thousands of veterans,” Dr. Morgan said.

“This collaboration will be a validation pipeline to develop, test, and deploy virtual reality solutions not only for our veterans but also for patients, physicians, and clinical staff outside the VHA. We are very impressed with the VHA’s commitment to innovation and are honored to be a part of it.”

Caitlin Rawlins, innovation specialist, co-lead for the VHA XR Network, and site lead for WNCVAHCS’s VR program said, “WNCVAHCS was very forward-thinking in offering the Waya Health platform to veterans in 2018. The Asheville pilot demonstrated how virtual reality aids veterans with pain, anxiety, behavioral concerns, boredom, and challenges with relaxation.”

“The veterans who participated in that pilot advocated strongly for VHA to expand the use of virtual reality in their healthcare. We value highly their perspective and are very excited about what this new, broader collaboration may reveal.”

About Waya Health:
Founded by board-certified physicians in Boone, North Carolina, in 2016, Waya Health provides patient-centered and outcome-focused solutions to overcome today’s biggest healthcare challenges. Waya Health’s innovative virtual and augmented reality tools can improve patient care, lower costs, and increase revenue across multiple clinical settings.

About the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem:
VHA IE is the catalyst for enabling the discovery and spread of mission-drive health care innovation to advance care delivery and service that exceeds expectations, restores hope, and builds trust within the veteran community. As part of the VHA Office of Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks (DEAN), VHA IE leverages the collective power of innovation champions across VA, academia, non-profit organizations, and industry to operationalize innovation in the nation’s largest integration healthcare system.