Groundbreaking “Compassionate Conversations” Virtual Reality Training Debuts at HLTH 2023

A content collaboration between Catalyst by Wellstar and Virtual Reality Pioneer Moth+Flame

Meet Alice, an ovarian cancer patient whose cancer has progressed from stage 2 to stage 4—but she hasn’t received this devastating news yet from her doctor. Frontline healthcare workers care deeply for their patients, and unfortunately must have such heartbreaking discussions with their patients despite receiving little or no training on these delicate and life-changing conversations.

Catalyst by Wellstar and Wellstar Health System, one of the largest health systems in Georgia, in collaboration with Moth+Flame, an award-winning virtual reality (VR) communication technology developer, have created a world-class new training for Palliative Care practitioners as part of a new Conversations in Healthcare library. This content library allows learners to practice real-life conversations where they will be challenged to make decisions in a healthcare setting.

The Compassionate Conversations training is set in a medical office where learners, immersed in VR, speak with Alice about the serious progression of her cancer and help her navigate the next steps. Uniquely, this VR training utilizes live actors rather than avatars or animations, creating a powerful and emotional experience similar to those faced by palliative care professionals every day. No such training exists on the market today.

Alice shares an update with her personal social network before her next visit with her cancer care team.

“Doctors want to get things right and communication is a skill like any other medical procedure. This platform allows them to practice these crucial conversations in a safe space while maintaining the emotions and intensity that make this challenging in reality,” said Dr. Anjali Grandhige, Medical Director, Wellstar Palliative Medicine.

In this training, learners receive the tools they need to support their mental health and help patients feel supported and understood during challenging moments. Learning objectives and skills learners will gain include:

  • Build confidence with navigating sensitive workplace conversations in a healthcare setting

  • Validate emotions and offer appropriate support

  • Demonstrate emotional self-awareness

  • Identify and manage emotions that arise during conversations

  • Apply active listening without judgment

  • Apply inclusive, direct, and empathetic communication styles

  • Ask open-ended questions to understand issues

This impactful learning module was created with direct input from Wellstar clinical team members led by Dr. Grandhige to make this learning as realistic and accurate as possible. Palliative care team members will develop the conversational skills that they need by applying compassion, empathy, and direct language with colleagues and patients. Such skills will foster trust, understanding, and dignity for patients facing serious illnesses or end-of-life care.

This is the latest expansion of the collaboration between Catalyst by Wellstar, Wellstar Health System and Moth+Flame which began with a pilot training on Emotional Intelligence among Wellstar leadership; the success of this pilot resulted in an enterprise-wide expansion of the training. Dr. Grandhige was a participant in these trainings and urged the Catalyst by Wellstar team to explore developing such immersive and realistic trainings for palliative care, which are debuting this week at the HLTH conference. Attendees of HLTH can stop by the Catalyst by Wellstar booth #1646 and experience this ground-breaking training or two other modules available in the Moth+Flame learning library.

Learn more about the Conversations in Healthcare library here.

Patric Rayburn
by Patric Rayburn