Therapeutic VR for Managing Pain & Improving Patient Outcomes

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In the latest episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I sat down with Ramsay Brown, CEO and Founder of Quol. We delved into several different HealthTech topics, including the concept of VR therapeutics and the importance of incorporating behavioral science and neuroscience into VR solutions, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the HealthTech industry.

Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:

Q: Tell us about this interesting trajectory that you had in your life that caused you to land where you are today?

A: Now, I’d be remiss not to point out that a lot of people who end up doing technical work, especially as founders, end up with these semi-obnoxious life arch stories where they kind of knew what they wanted to do since they were a kid. I’m not going to escape that gravity well, that totally happened to me. I’ve always had this really deep passion since contracting pneumonia at a really young age, which put me in a medical context pretty quickly, that the thing I was supposed to do with my very scarce time here was work at this intersection of technology and human flourishing.

I always found the place that resonated the best was understanding how and what we were doing with computing, because my dad was in the first dot-com wave in the 90s. I grew up with a lot of early exposure to the first wave of what would become the internet. What we’re doing with technology and what medicine was beginning to think about in terms of things like systems neuroscience, and understanding that the parts of us that are most Ramsay, and most Natalie, can be thought of analogously to how we thought about networks and computing infrastructure. That became the loci of my passion throughout my life; how do we build things that help people flourish at that intersection of technology and life sciences, but particularly aiming at human behavior.

I followed that into my graduate studies at the University of Southern California where I built Google maps for the brain. Instead of clicking and dragging around a map to figure out how you drive between Market Street and the Presidio, I was figuring out instead how does the brain conduit information from different pieces, and how do we click and drag around a map like that to get between smell and memory. That helped me cut my teeth on design thinking and understanding software development. I built my first company, Dopamine Labs, shortly after that, and we focused on how behavior change could be driven using artificial intelligence. This was huge for us because, going back to this imperative that we’re here to use technology to improve human flourishing, if you talk to any physician, they’ll tell you that about 7 out of 10 common causes of death in the United States have strong behavioral components.

These are the Type II Diabetes, COPD, cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, anxiety, and stress complications. These are all places where you have genetic factors, to be certain, but you also largely have behavioral factors. As a neuroscientist who studied the parts of the brain about behavior, I understood deeply at a mechanistic level what it means to have the environment change around someone to drive behavior to a new state.

What we saw was a massive opportunity to do good, and to use our phones, which are otherwise being used as distraction and suffering engines, to instead further patient adherence, or further how well people stuck to their diet, or were mobile from a sedentary life, or remember to take their pills on time. These places where we could use technology to gear the outcomes that medical technology was trying to drive, not starting from a medicine perspective, but from a human behavior perspective and working backwards…

For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Ramsay Brown, or listen to the podcast version, below.

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About Impetus Digital

Impetus Digital is the spark behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. Our best-in-class technology and professional services ensure that life science organizations around the world can easily and cost-effectively grow and prosper—from brand or idea discovery to development, commercialization, execution, and beyond—in collaboration with colleagues, customers, healthcare providers, payers, and patients.

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