Visiting Altspace During #NHITweek (Wow!)

The redheaded figure you see above is me.

Well, not actually... but that's the avatar I handpicked to represent myself at Chuck Webster's Health Systems Chat in AltspaceVR on Monday.

Health Systems Chat? AltspaceVR?

If you're scratching your head in bewilderment at that last sentence, that's definitely okay. I too was scratching my head at the very beginning... not regarding Altspace (a hub of "virtual reality meeting spaces where users can have conversations, watch videos, play games, and browse the Internet") or Virtual Reality, but at the concept of meeting up with complete strangers.


To chat about health.

For a whole hour.


Keep in mind here I'm not 100% new to Virtual Reality. I've toyed around with the HTC Vive, Microsoft's upper-end VR system, at my local mall (and had a great time doing so). It's admittedly an awesome experience walking around a sunken pirate ship and shooting robo-aliens out of the sky.

But then there's Altspace... and what I experienced within it on Monday.

I could say a lot of things here. My brief time spent listening to other "avatars" shoot the breeze about healthcare-related topics (supporting healthcare transformation, expanding access to high quality healthcare, the role health IT plays in supporting population and public health, etc.) was incredibly insightful. I could probably write an entire essay on the implications/potential implications of Altspace & VR on the health field (don't test me—I went to school for English 😏).


But I'll just cut to the chase here for brevity's sake:

The concept of shared community hubs within virtual space is not going anywhere. In fact, I'd argue it'll soon be the norm within the healthcare industry.


If you're going to take anything out of this short little article, let it be that. The most surprising and striking aspect of participating in Altspace/VR is that it works, and it hasn't even come close to reaching it's full potential. It, among a myriad of other things, is a powerful platform for communication, human connection, and getting in the know about different fields of industry. I'd argue better than Skype/Zoom, professional conferences, and maybe even, uh, real life...

Yea, yea. I know how that sounds. How can "virtual" reality even come close to holding a light to "real" reality in terms of the human experience?

All I have to say in response is this: a). do your best to reserve any flash judgments about what I'm saying, and, most important of all, b). try it out for yourself.

Checkout some of the upcoming Health Systems Chat in Social VR events!