Happinss Leverages VR Technology to Improve Well-BeingBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 06/02/2021 - 12:19
Q: Why should companies be concerned about pandemic-related workplace changes on the happiness of their workers?
RP: The pandemic and the changes it introduced have generated higher rates of anxiety and a significant increase in the utilization of mental health services. Companies do not know how their employees are doing emotionally and have had trouble balancing the state of mind of their workers with the state of the business. In the past, being in the office made it easier to observe an employee’s emotional state but with remote working these problems only come to light when they are already serious, such as acute anxiety, burnout or depression.
We must pivot to an organizational culture that is centered on the person and their well-being. Before the pandemic, the organizational culture was centered around physical spaces, with beautiful locations and pleasant offices, among other features. Now, companies have realized that focusing on space no longer works. There is a need to migrate to a culture centered on a purpose, in this case the well-being of the employee. The employee is the building block of the company. We believe that if employees are happy, customers will be happy and ultimately the investment in the employee will pay off.
MAW: We are a technology company and, although clients saw potential in our project, the impact of our product is much greater in healthcare through our relaxation programs for patients. For about two years, we have been working with clinics to help patients lower their stress levels, achieving very good results.
Q: How have you worked together with your users and what results have you had?
MAW: In the health area, we were already collaborating with an oncological clinic and testing the product with patients. We proved that the impact of our product on these patients is greater than on a person without a chronic degenerative condition and that our technology significantly impacts the patient's quality of life.
RP: The use of our technology for relaxation through sessions of less than 10 minutes has reduced subjective stress levels, reduced neck and back pain and increased subjective well-being in cancer patients. We are planning to conduct more evaluations and are collaborating with Stanford´s psychiatry department to plan more elaborate testing. We are also collaborating with a psychiatric clinic to conduct more studies that we hope will demonstrate the clinical impact of Happinss’ services on patients.
Q: What response have you received from companies?
MAW: With companies, we have seen a marked pattern in terms of emotional awareness. Companies are looking for ways to know how their employees feel, how the environments they are in affect them and the stressors they face. We have developed a tool that helps employees monitor themselves through a digital platform that keeps track of their mood and helps them improve it with different tools.
RP: Our solution helps employees identify and regulate their emotions but it also keeps records so companies can be aware of their employees’ state of mind. In this way, we help the employee and provide a general diagnosis to the employer, without any identifying data due to information privacy. In a corporate environment, several managers have approached us because they have detected quite high levels of stress and they require solutions. We have a tool enhanced with virtual reality (VR) that helps to manage stress through mindfulness in total immersion environments. We have used it both in corporate and clinical environments with promising results and have received great interest from managers.
MAW: For example, we offered this tool to a patient who had just received a difficult diagnosis. Within a few minutes of use, the patient calmed down a bit. His emotional state had improved.
With VR, we have found a powerful tool to control the environment that the person is experiencing. This technology transports the person to an environment that is isolated from external stimulus, where we can work directly with them to reach optimal levels of well-being.
RP: The brain does not discern between real stimuli and the VR, which is perceived as real. This allows us to combine positive stimuli to provide an immersive and effective experience.
Q: How are you bringing Happinss VR services to users within the framework of the pandemic?
MAW: We used to take the programs directly to companies. Now that employees are at home, it has become much more challenging. The business model has changed because now we have to deliver Happinss VR visors to every single employee. The visors are not too expensive and we are now in talks with several companies to see how we can get them to their employees. We redesigned the visor kit and included an acrylic box and fiberglass components to facilitate disinfection and reducing the risk of contagion.
RP: We are also developing a mobile application to generate a similar experience through cardboard-cut visors. This may result in a less reliable experience but it significantly reduces costs and it is up to the company to decide what experience to provide to its employees.
Q: On the clinical side, how have you connected with hospitals and patients?
MAW: We are working with an oncological clinic to validate the product for clinical use. We are currently looking for leading oncology and nephrology clinics in Mexico that want to implement this technology. We are also doing market research and beginning clinical studies to be able to obtain the corresponding permits from COFEPRIS, FDA and other regulators.
Many clinics have expressed interest in the products but the most important pending issue is COVID-19. Several clinics are waiting for the disease to pass before adopting this technology.
This is a new area so we must work together with health providers to reach patients.
RP: There is growing awareness about mental health and the importance of the mind-body connection in the provision of holistic treatments. Our product, whether in business or clinical use, is in no way a substitute for a mental health professional, nor is it designed for crisis intervention. It serves to help the user decrease their stress levels. In a clinical setting, it is a tool available to healthcare personnel to help patients address their emotional health.
Happinss is dedicated to improve mental strength & wellness through VR technology. Recently, the company has delved into clinical research with promising findings.