Image from VR Venepuncture app showing a screenshot of the experience

This highly interactive VR app provides a safe space in which users can develop key patient interaction skills and practise the process for obtaining blood samples.

Developed with clinicians, VR Venepuncture compliments real world experiences by simulating the entire process from first meeting the patient to storing blood samples. The app fully immerses users in a VR environment where they can interact with patient avatars and rehearse procedural aspects of venepuncture. This eases the transition from training to clinical practice, reduces risk, and supports practitioners to develop the skills necessary to elicit information from patients that informs decision-making.

The app has been designed to support experiential learning. Users are allowed free choice, deciding not only on the actions they wish to undertake but also the order and control over which digital objects to manipulate. Analytics data provides personalised performance feedback, helping learners to reflect on, and improve, their performance.

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How we made it

By using a human-centred design process, we gained a deep insight into end users’ needs and context, so that we could develop a solution that has value. We started by working with a practising phlebotomist who had expert knowledge – this gave us valuable understanding of both the venepuncture process, as well as contextual insights.

Image from the app showing a user finding a suitable vein to take blood in virtual reality
Image from the app showing a user finding a suitable vein to take blood in virtual reality

Using the clinical standard for venepuncture, we began storyboarding the high-level narrative for the VR experience. From there, we storyboarded discreet sections (akin to 'acts' and 'scenes') in more detail to support attainment of learning objectives. This enabled us to generate a proof-of-concept app to test feasibility.

Our clinical designer, with nursing and teaching experience, was instrumental in developing the prototype as part of our iterative, evidence-led development process. For educational VR to be effective, both the pedagogy and technology need to be mutually supportive. This necessitated changes in pedagogy to ensure that interactions complimented the multiple narratives in the VR experience. Frequent informal usability (UX) testing at each iteration informed the next stage of development.

Image from the app showing a user finding a suitable vein to take blood in virtual reality
Image from the app showing a user finding a suitable vein to take blood in virtual reality

VR is unlike technologies that most of us are familiar with. At this stage we conducted larger-scale UX testing to validated the work to date. Having ensured a baseline level of usability, the app is undergoing piloting by progressively larger groups to prioritise product enhancements.


We have a lot planned for the VR Venepuncture experience, as well as using this as a stage to produce further healthcare experiences.

User testing

Identifying new enhancements to the user experience and testing recent improvements

Product enhancements

Planned enhancements covering learning analytics, user experience, animations and extending the range of clinical scenarios available. User testing will be ongoing

Pilot testing and evaluation

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