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Pfizer Australia challenges Rheumatoid Arthritis perception in VR campaign

Healthcare company Pfizer Australia is challenging health care professionals to ‘step into the shoes’ of a Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) sufferer via a new virtual reality campaign created by Webling Interactive in collaboration with Sudler Sydney.

Based on the highly successful ‘living with RA’ consumer awareness campaign launched last year by Sudler Sydney (formerly greyhealth Australia), the new VR extension brings the former TVC to life and virtually puts the viewer inside the shoes of an RA sufferer, to experience first-hand the hardships of living with RA.

MD of Webling Interactive, Deniz Nalbantoglu said the challenge of this campaign was to find a way for health professionals to have a stronger understanding of the symptoms and experiences of RA sufferers, to ensure better communication with patients about their treatment goals.

“This is when VR technology really becomes handy. By virtually experiencing the hardships of living with RA, doctors and health care practitioners can truly empathise with their patients. The VR experience enables them to experience the difficulty of trying to undertake daily tasks such as simply turning a door handle or just getting out of bed; day-to-day tasks that can become a living nightmare for RA sufferers,” said Mr Nalbantoglu.

“We hope the VR experience assists health care professionals to experience RA symptoms as realistically as possible, and ensure they have a better appreciation of RA’s effect on their patients,” Mr Nalbantoglu added.

Doctors were able to try the VR experience at a recent Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA) conference in NZ, where an exit survey revealed that 100 per cent of medical professionals believed it truly reflected the daily RA struggle that their patients described, 86 per cent believed patients would be more likely to speak to their rheumatologists about their symptoms after experiencing the virtual reality, 100 per cent said it would increase RA awareness and 98 per cent said it would benefit RA patient’s family, carers and friends.

To develop the VR experience, Webling took direction from Sudler Sydney’s original ‘living with RA’ TVC and worked closely with Sudler’s creative team to create an experience that clearly demonstrates what it is like as an RA sufferer. Webling modelled (3D) the scenes featured in the TVC to create a realistic VR experience. The agency utilised the HTC Vive’s hand controllers to help convey the condition; for instance, when the user reaches out for a door handle their hand in VR turns to porcelain and the controller vibrates stopping them from being able to complete the task, emulating some of the feelings and difficulties felt by an RA sufferer.

Peter Bernard, MD of Sudler Sydney, said, “This project is a compelling example of what happens when two leading agencies collaborate to bring their specialist talents to the table to deliver a best-in-class solution. We’re proud to have partnered with Webling and Pfizer on this project, and can see many applications of this technology to achieve new insights for our clients and their customers.”

The VR experience is being rolled out at selected Australian and international medical conferences throughout the remainder of 2017.

Webling Interactive and Sudler Sydney are part of WPP AUNZ.

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