Constantinos Panayi: how virtual reality can transform patients’ experience

img_2791My name is Constantinos Panayi and I have just graduated with a first class honours degree in 3D Animation and Games at Middlesex University.  I am a 3D Artist specialising in VR Technology and have a strong interest in working in Medical/Healthcare Virtual Reality.

I am a former Great Ormond Street (GOSH) patient, having been treated there for a number of conditions. I also volunteer at GOSH as a guide, greeting and welcoming people on arrival, and directing and escorting patients, parents, and visitors to wards, clinics, and departments. I am part of the GOSH YPF (Young People’s Forum), which consists of patients, former patients and siblings of patients, and every few weeks we gather together and discuss ways in which we can improve patient experience for teenage patients at the hospital.

I am using my history of being at hospital, with my knowledge of 3D animation and games to create relaxing and reassuring projects, primarily for young hospital patients at GOSH. Growing up as a young patient, I had many procedures and never really knew and understood well enough what was going to happen, apart from the short explanation by doctors.

The project

My years spent at GOSH mean that I wish to give back. I do this by creating projects that have a positive impact on people and improve patient experience. The patients are the main focus of everything I do.

Virtual reality construction of treatment room

One of my projects is a virtual reality animation of an MRI scan. This shows the patient the procedure, so that they are aware and informed about the whole process, and are less anxious beforehand. The patient is taken through the procedure by the animated Radiographer and voice over narrative. Later on in the process, sea-life emerge and swim around the patient, creating a calming and relaxing experience.


Morgan Stanley virtual reality garden at GOSH

My second project is a virtual reality garden, based on the Morgan Stanley Garden at GOSH. It is designed for patients on isolated wards who do not have the opportunity to leave their room. I am bringing the Garden to them through the use of virtual reality. Having been a patient on isolated wards myself, I have experienced not being able to go outside of the hospital room. For the duration of the experience, animals deliver reassuring and thoughtful letters that have been written by former patients.

Transforming patient experience

Overall, digital innovations like my projects will improve patient experience because they inform and thus reassure the patients of hospital life and procedures.

In June, I displayed both my MRI Scan and Garden projects at my University end of year show. Many people tried out both and I gained lots of valuable feedback. For instance, a woman who suffers from anxiety told me that the Garden VR project helped her relax and meditate. My highlight of the show was seeing three siblings reacting positively to both my projects, with the brother pointing out to his younger sister “Look! Do you see the fishes? There is Nemo!”.

I took part in my first Hackathon which centred on ‘AR+VR in healthcare’. I was lead designer and we created a VR project focused in helping to reduce agoraphobia.

At the beginning of July, I presented my MRI Scan VR project at the 2017 ‘SAS Animation Conference’ at the University of Padua, Italy. This was really exciting as it was my first professional conference I had been to and it was very helpful to gain knowledge and insight from professionals in the animation industry.

What’s next?

I hope to go back to Great Ormond Street to discuss the possibilities of forming a research team, which is something we discussed when I first presented the MRI Scan project.

If my project is proven to be successful at GOSH, I would like to use it to help improve patient experience, not just across hospitals around London and the UK, but all over the world. I would like to carry on creating more of them, and one of my main goals in life would be to have my own company setup creating these projects for patients.