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The Technology of the Future is Now at Hoag

Hoag is not only visualizing the future of medicine, but quite literally shaping it.

With the launch of the Center for Advanced Visualization and Immersive Therapeutics, Hoag is researching, developing – and now offering patients access to – Experiential Reality (XR) technology, a field that includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality.

This technology gives doctors vivid visualizations deep inside their patients’ bodies to more precisely custom design surgical treatment options with minimal invasiveness. XR technology is also being used to relieve anxiety and pain in unprecedented ways.

Under the leadership of Robert Louis, M.D., Chief of Neurosurgery and the Empower360 Endowed Chair in Skull Base and Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery, Hoag has established a national reputation in the use of XR technology for advanced surgery, pain and stress management, patient education and maternal care.

The center, located within Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute Newport Beach campus, takes this leadership position to new heights.

“The future is now at Hoag,” Dr. Louis said. “This exceptional technology is transforming care in multiple institutes hospital-wide and requires an equally exceptional dedicated facility. We are thrilled to provide an interdisciplinary resource for patients and doctors from all specialties.” 

The center includes three dedicated spaces to research, develop and implement XR. In the Innovation Lab, doctors and engineers work side-by-side to develop the newest XR technology. The Therapy Treatment Room is open to all Hoag physicians, ranging from neurologists to psychologists to cardiologists, whose patients can benefit from XR treatments., The third space is the Experiential Theater, in which patients and their family members can “fly-through” a doctor’s surgical plan to see exactly what the surgeon is planning before undergoing a procedure. This helps patients and their families better understand what they will experience.

“Patients who have preoperative ‘fly-throughs’ have not only better patient experiences, but also better patient-reported outcomes because of the lower risk of anxiety and more thorough preparation,” Dr. Louis said. “This solves a longstanding problem within medicine, namely that patients do not understand traditional medical images.”

The theater is also used for clinical training, community education and multidisciplinary team collaboration on cases to optimize patient outcomes.

Hoag physicians have been working with engineers to enhance and develop several XR innovations. Hoag’s surgeons are pioneering 3D modeling and VR tools to “rehearse” complex surgeries, from brain to kidney, to reduce the time and risk associated with the procedures. And this past year, Hoag introduced expecting mothers to their developing babies using NurtureVR, a VR platform that pregnant women can use to watch their babies grow, receive prenatal education and manage their pain.

The new center will foster even more innovations going forward, said Robert T. Braithwaite, president and CEO of Hoag.

“As a trusted health care leader and the highest-ranked hospital in Orange County, the opening of the XR Lab furthers Hoag’s commitment to exploring, inventing and perfecting innovative treatment options and elevating our delivery of personalized, compassionate care,” Braithwaite said.

For more information, call 949-764-6066.