Extended reality (XR) offers significant potential to improve both the access to healthcare professional training and ongoing development and the effectiveness with which it is delivered. In so doing, XR could enable more people to provide better care, more readily. With this, the burden placed on the healthcare system and those working in it might be lessened and critically, the experience of those receiving care and their outcomes improved.

Immersive technologies have gained traction in recent years as technology has advanced and the need for change intensified in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.   The requirements of medical education are evolving too, not least in an environment where opportunities for practical clinical experiences are becoming more limited. In response, the application of XR educational technologies offers potential for greater learning and development, generating capacity and additional capability of those providing care as well as workplace satisfaction.  Applied at scale, the return for all could be even greater, not least for those in receipt.

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FCC has mapped the landscape of adult social care technology startups across England and explored the key themes for development in the sector. Technology applied to adult social care and the wider health care system is a priority for us and through the four reviews published on the sector, we seek to raise the profile of technology applications and empower the highest quality care outcomes.

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Here we are providing a snapshot of current attitudes, behaviours relating to, and perceptions of mental health technology in England. We explore what tools people use, how they use them, and why. We also identify the user perceived advantages and disadvantages of such tools, and their optimal features according to users. We consider the integration of digital tools with existing mental health services, particularly in light of COVID-19 trends in mental health. Finally, the report recommends measures that would be beneficial for the development and adoption of mental health tools, and to address some of the challenges in integrating digital and face-to-face healthcare delivery. The report seeks to inform policymakers, innovators, technology developers, clinical researchers and the health and care workforce by advancing the critical discourse around the need, role, and optimal features of digital mental health tools.

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