Life Sciences & HealthcareAugust 25, 2022

Can virtual radiology improve outcomes for cancer patients?

Hartmann Institute’s VORTHEx uses virtual twins of radiotherapy sessions to improve patient experience.

Around the world, there are around 18 million new cancer cases diagnosed each year and that number is growing. The burden of this disease is growing in almost every country. Preventing cancer is a mounting public health challenge. Improving outcomes is another. 

One of the more common cancer treatments is radiotherapy. About 60% of all patients will need it. Advances in medicine have enabled more precise delivery of high doses that attack tumors while preserving organs. While modern equipment treats tumors more efficiently, a project at the H. Hartmann Institute of Radiotherapy and Radiosurgery in France (ELSAN Group) is also focused on improving the patient experience overall.

VORTHEx, short for Virtual Oncology Radio Therapy Hartmann Experience, lets patients experience their treatment in virtual reality through virtual twins of radiotherapy sessions. It’s a partnership between Hartmann and Dassault Systèmes built upon the theory is that simulating radiotherapy in the virtual world before it happens in the real one will help patients understand their treatment and give them a better chance of overcoming the disease with less stress and anxiety.

Breakthrough idea: Experiencing treatment in virtual reality

Radiotherapy treatment rooms with robots are no joke. A patient, weakened by the disease, lying alone in the room as the robot rotates and moves around the table, is bound to be stressed – especially if it’s their first time. Education is important to lower a patient’s anxiety.

VORTHEx’s innovation is to let patients live the treatment and better understand it through a virtual experience that reconstructs in 3D all of the technical and protocol components of their individual treatment. The room, the Accuray Cyberknife® robot arm, the patient’s position, the steps of the sessions – it’s all there, a virtual twin of the radiotherapy room. A member of the patient’s care team is present for the virtual experience, answering any questions related to the simulation.


Hartmann Institute's VORTHEx improves patient experience with virtual radiology

Hartmann Radiotherapy Institute joined the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, after the institute looked to Dassault Systemes for help developing innovative treatment prep tools using virtual simulation technologies. The lab was able to quickly translate Hartmann’s medical processes into immersive 3D scenarios using various Dassault Systèmes solutions.

Until now, many patients feared their treatment – and the robot Cyberknife® – as much as their disease. The VORTHEx project wants to use virtual twin experiences to rebuild trust and improve the patient experience by healing intolerance of the unknown.

Effects of the VR experiences are evaluated within the framework of a study protocol established by the Hartmann Institute and Dassault Systèmes.

The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab is Dassault Systemes’ open innovation laboratory designed to nurture and empower disruptive projects.

Learn more about the Hartmann Institute and 3DEXPERIENCE Lab.

Read more 3DEXPERIENCE Lab stories  

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