Going to the doctor is something few people enjoy, and it is such an unenjoyable experience that many will gladly put off going indefinitely. With prompt treatment often key to successful treatment, such delays are seldom helpful. Indeed, data suggests that 40% of premature deaths are linked to not seeing the doctor quickly enough.
The issue is at the heart of a new project headed by biopharma company AbbVie, who have brought together a team from across tech and healthcare to tackle the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ (FOFO). The group consists of the likes of medical virtual reality experts FundamentalVR, the Open Data Institute, Professor Sir Muir Gray and TV doctor Dr Zoe Williams, and is headed by former Health Minister Alan Milburn.
AbbVie have a clear interest in tackling this issue, and earlier this year published a report on the topic. It found that fear is stopping many from seeking medical attention, with apprehension strongest among those who need it the most. Indeed, it found that 60% of adults have a negative attitude towards their health and the findings reveal an underlying fear about the potential for ill-health to disrupt our life. This fear is especially pronounced in men, who were found to endure symptoms for longer before seeking medical help, whilst they also reported higher embarrassment levels related to medical appointments.
The consortium aim to produce some innovative approaches to overcoming this fear of finding out. An especially interesting participant is VR gaming company Glitchers, who as the creators of Sea Hero Quest, a game designed to help research into neurological disorders, are at the forefront of the use of gaming to help improve healthcare.
“Gaming is at a very interesting juncture in the health space, I’m really happy to be part of Live:LabTM to continue the innovation in this space. At Glitchers we’ve been core in the design and development of Sea Hero Quest, a game that we developed alongside scientists to have a large impact on dementia research. Now we’ve partnered with AbbVie to explore how gaming can aid advances in healthcare with the Live:LabTM series. It’s important that consumers can be reached with important health messages and collaborations with the best of industry are key to finding the best ways to do that,” the company say.
It’s an interesting project, and whilst it’s still at a very early stage, the consortium AbbVie have pulled together to tackle it have a strong track record of work in healthcare, so it will be fascinating to see what kind of solutions they come up with.
“As an innovation led science company we, and in fact healthcare organisations more widely, are used to thinking in terms of logic and evidence. We come at problems from the world of fact based evidence. But life experience shows that we’re not always logical in how we think about our own health. The decisions we make have a big impact on what help we can get from doctors. If we are going relieve the huge strain on the NHS, we must get creative and we can only do this by bringing in the most creative minds from outside of healthcare. This is what AbbVie is trying to encourage through this collaboration,” AbbVie say.
Suffice to say, people will perhaps argue that the best thing that can be done is to make it easier to see a doctor in the first place, as having to wait a few weeks for an appointment does little to encourage early diagonses, but nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what the project comes up with. Check out the video below to learn more.