Virtual Reality lets us dive into completely strange worlds. VR is known as ego medium. The immersive technology helps us to experience situations up close without actually being there. Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is the first health insurance company in Germany to use the possibilities of the virtual world and offers a hitherto unique therapy for the digital treatment of anxiety disorders.
The digital therapy was developed together with the Hamburg-based company Sympatient and offers a guideline-based remote treatment of anxiety disorders in the patient’s own four walls. The VR app called “Invirto” offers videos and digital exercises in a virtual four-week program, which should enable everyone to receive high-quality therapy. Whether it is the fear of elevator or subway rides or the treatment of other anxiety disorders, in the safe environment of your own home, virtual reality helps to confront your fears.
“Our treatment concept enables patients to access high-quality psychotherapy quickly and without waiting times”,- Dr. Jens Baas, Chairman of the Board of Management of Techniker Krankenkasse
The patient in the center
The focus of “Invirto” is on the patient and the speed of therapy desired by the patient. After an initial examination by the Center for Integrative Psychiatry (ZiP) of the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, the participants are sent home customized VR applications including virtual reality glasses. From then on, the patient can decide for himself when and how often he completes the exercises and faces his fears. The University Hospital is always available as a contact partner and supports the immersive treatment.
Since the application regularly queries the psychological situation of the participants using a question catalogue and sends it for evaluation, the clinic or the company Sympatient can intervene and support at any time.
Innovation profile: Invirto
The new therapy offers an opportunity for the treatment of anxiety disorders that has so far been little used in Germany. The patient can face his fears in a safe environment and with therapeutic support and thus make slow progress.
Even if the idea is being used for the first time in Germany, the therapeutic treatment of anxiety is nothing new. In the United States, immersive technologies are already being used more frequently for treatment. However, the guideline-based treatment and the care provided by the Techniker Krankenkasse and the university hospital make the program a unique experience for patients and helps them enormously in the path they choose. The complexity is kept within limits.
Through precisely defined exercises, videos and VR materials, the therapy can be started quickly. <However, the level of uncertainty and conflict is very high. Due to the lack of proximity to a human therapist and the virtual or decentralized supervision by the collaborative partners at Invirto, it is possible that some patients may withdraw from the therapy or not be completely open to it for fear of the therapy.