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The program will focus on decreasing the rate of cancelled medical appointments by autistic individuals using oVRcome's VR-based exposure therapy platform.

New Zealand-based virtual reality and cognitive behavioral therapy company oVRcome announced it signed an international contract with the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) to help autistic individuals navigate hospital environments and social interactions.

oVRcome, launched in 2021, utilizes a smartphone and a headset to deliver exposure therapy to adults and children with numerous conditions, including phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder and other ailments. 

Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients build up their tolerance to their specific phobias through short bursts of exposure. 

The U.K.-based pilot program aims to reduce the appointment cancellation rate among individuals on the autism spectrum by helping them navigate hospital and social settings via oVRcome's exposure therapy platform. 

The program will immerse autistic individuals in virtual environments, complete with scripted videos showing ways of behaving in social settings so that they can practice navigating these environments and feel more comfortable.  

Up to a hundred individuals will participate in the pilot program, scheduled to begin in August. 

"What we know firsthand is that members of the autistic community experience anxiety around accessing medical services and environments. Often, this anxiety leads to the cancellation of appointments, with many of these being essential to the individual's health and wellbeing," Adam Hutchinson, founder of oVRcome, told MobiHealthNews

"Our goal is to reduce this anxiety through customized virtual reality exposure therapy co-designed with members of the community. This is accessed via the oVRcome smartphone app, with a clinician being able to connect to the VR session remotely via our clinician portal."


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