Lenovo has previewed results from a new global survey that shows people believe in the potential of immersive technologies to positively impact our health, with virtual reality (VR) being used in some hospitals in place of general anesthetics to alleviate pain for young patients.

A new Lenovo film, “This is life”, premiered this month, showcasing the use of its technology in collaboration with Starlight Children’s Foundation, which is using the Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset in its Starlight Virtual Reality program.

The VR technology enables pediatricians at Children’s Hospital Colorado and hundreds of Starlight partner hospitals and healthcare facilities in the US to use the headsets as a procedural tool for critically-ill young patients, primarily to reduce anxiety during mild to moderately painful procedures.

By using VR as a calming distraction, several patients have been able to undergo these procedures while awake, cutting down lengthy recovery times, and reducing the need for medication.

Dr Joe Albietz, medical director at Child Life, Children’s Hospital Colorado, comments: “Due to the distressing nature of treatments such as a lumbar puncture, where a needle is used to withdraw spinal fluid and sometimes administer medication, our patients often receive the procedure under general anesthetic.

“Virtual reality can be used in place of general anesthesia to help tolerate pain, and in fact, it is having a profound impact on the quality of life of our hospitalised children.

“We are seeing children who used to require general anesthesia, now able to be fully awake with minimal medications.”

To unearth new insights into the social changes and benefits of intelligent technology and smart devices, Lenovo surveyed more than 15 000 individuals, across the US, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy.

The research found that people around the world believe new technologies have the power to transform the healthcare space, with 47% of global respondents saying technology will be “critical” in transforming health care in the future.

Furthermore, the majority (84%) of respondents say they believe technology can empower people, communities and society to help address and solve big global problems, including in the healthcare field, while a quarter (25%) report they feel technology companies have a responsibility to help address and solve major challenges facing society and the world.

While the majority of respondents say they feel technology can help play a role in addressing worldwide challenges such as certain health care issues, they say that promise is yet to be fulfilled.

More than two thirds of respondents (67%) said that technology and smart devices are currently having a positive impact on their abilities to live healthier lifestyles. Additionally, only half (50%) of people globally say they think technology has had a positive impact on society by improving aspects of the healthcare space.

Lenovo concludes that people around the world are aware of the impact that technology has made in users’ general health and wellness, but there is room to grow, especially in terms of personal wellness.

Dilip Bhatia, vice-president of user and customer experience at Lenovo, says: “As technology transforms the world into a more intelligent and inter-connected place, Starlight Virtual Reality is one of many examples of Lenovo’s commitment to creating smarter technology that transforms society.

“We believe this responsibility falls to global technology providers to collectively develop solutions to solve larger societal issues, such as in the health care sector. In addition, our new global survey shows that people around the world share our belief that technology can benefit humankind in crucial areas such as health and wellness.”