Oncomfort Help Cancer Patients Cope With Anxiety Using Virtual Reality

Oncomfort Help Cancer Patients Cope With Anxiety Using Virtual Reality

Getting a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience that affects patients emotional health. Whether it is fear of death, pain, changes in body image, feeling loss of control of life events or how they are able to fill family and work roles, anxiety is a normal reaction from getting the diagnosis, undergoing treatment, to anticipation of recurrence of cancer. Anxiety associated with cancer may increase feeling of pain, causing nausea and vomiting, interfering with patient’s quality of life. If left untreated, anxiety may even be associated with lower survival rates.

The Houston-based startup Oncomfort is determined to reduce anxiety before, during and after cancer treatment by combining virtual reality and evidence-based anxiety management interventions. Founded by Diane Jooris and Joowon Kim, a previous founder of a virtual reality game company, Oncomfort helps people forget they are undergoing stressful and sometimes painful treatment.

Oncomfort is an innovative method of helping patients cope with anxiety, stress and side effects of their treatments. Updating and digitizing proven anxiety management interventions could significantly improve quality of life and treatment outcomes. As we develop more effective treatments for cancer, we need to invest further in helping patients live with cancer on an everyday basis. Oncomfort's virtual reality could be a solution for a better reality.

Virtual Reality is also being explored in other areas of healthcare, with competitors making platforms for pain management, brain damage assessment and rehabilitation, social cognition training in autism, Alzheimer’s, ADHD management, as well as diagnostics. Although Oncomfort is determined to focus on cancer first, they have the opportunity of applying the technology to a broad array of diseases.

While these strategic choices highlight the huge potential of Oncomfort, it is the vision of improving everyday life of patients living with cancer that differentiate them from their competitors. They have an understanding of patients and their lack of psychological resources to help them get through treatments. This understanding and drive could not only improve quality of life, but even increase survival rates.

The startup has won multiple awards, including the grand prize at C3 Prize, and is doing pilot programs with hospitals around the world to validate the technology. They have been part of  Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s incubator in Houston, ‘JLabs @ TMC’, as well as the 2017 TMCx accelerator.