Digital empathic healthcare : designing virtual interactions for human-centered experiences

Grech, Amy and Wodehouse, Andrew and Brisco, Ross; Särestöniemi, Mariella and Keikhosrokiani, Pantea and Singh, Daljeet and Harjula, Erkki and Tiulpin, Aleksei and Jansson, Miia and Isomursu, Minna and van Gils, Mark and Saarakkala, Simo and Reponen, Jarmo, eds. (2024) Digital empathic healthcare : designing virtual interactions for human-centered experiences. In: Digital Health and Wireless Solutions. Communications in Computer and Information Science . Springer, FIN, 191–206. ISBN 9783031590801 (

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The evolution of the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients towards patient-centered care has emphasized the importance of understanding patients’ perspectives, values, and needs. This shift has transformed decision-making from a technical standpoint to a more holistic approach integrating moral influences, driven by empathy. This research explores the transformative role of empathy, facilitated by Virtual Reality (VR) technology, in healthcare practitioners’ interactions with patients. Inspired by VR's immersive capabilities, the novel specification entitled the Digital Empathic Design Voyage is presented as a foundation for operational virtual environments that empower humans to experience empathy. Through outcomes from literature and a qualitative study, this paper determines appropriate digital environment interactions relevant to a healthcare scenario. The research envisions a deeper understanding of patients, fostering human-oriented healthcare practices and solutions.