Brennan Spiegel, Cedars-Sinai, VirtualMedicine.Health

If you follow the work being done in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) – you probably have already seen the work being done by today's guest: Dr. Brennan Spiegel. In this episode, Brennan gets real about the applications for virtual reality in healthcare, and what is needed to drive adoption throughout the healthcare system and around the world.  Brennan Spiegel is the Director of Health Services Research at Cedars-Sinai Health System. He’s also a Professor of Medicine and Public Health at UCLA, and Co-Chair of the VR/AR Association Digital Health Committee. He has published numerous best-selling medical textbooks and has more than 170 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His work has been featured in Bloomberg, Forbes, Huffington Post, LA Times, NBC News, NPR, PBS, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal and now we’re adding Digital Health Today to that esteemed list of media outlets!

Listen using the embedded player on this page, or

click to listen on your favorite podcast platform

You can often find Brennan at major conferences around the world including HIMSS, Connected Health, Exponential Med, Health 2.0 and CES – actually it was CES where I heard him speak for the first time. And now, he’s founded a new conference call Virtual Medicine which was held last week at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It was the first international symposium dedicated to medical virtual reality.

Tickets were sold out for this debut event, and if you weren't there, fear not, because in true pioneering fashion, Brennan worked with the team over at Samsung to get the event filmed and streamed live in 360 – the recordings aren't up yet, but you can grab your goggles and transport yourself back in time and over to Los Angeles and watch the event as if you were there. Find the videos when they go live at

You may notice that one of the sponsors of Virtual Medicine is the team over at Get.Health, which happens to be one of our sponsors as well. If you want to get a (dot)health domain name you can get in touch with Jen Lannon or Sidonia Swarm of the Get.Health team. You can find them at, and they'll hook you up, or DM me on Twitter and I can put you in touch. Thanks for helping show our sponsors how much we appreciate their support!

Optum. How well gets done.

Today's Topics

  • What patients experience in biopsychosocial jail cells
  • How immersive technologies can nudge users in interesting ways
  • How VR can liberate patients from the confines of the hospital
  • Whether, when and how to use VR
  • How users' response varies based on the user's age
  • The response of payors and providers to the use of VR in therapy
  • Insight into the inaugural VirtualMedicine.Health Conference
  • Brennan's talent and accomplishments as a beat boxer and vocal percussionist

Links and Resources Mentioned

Lightning Round Answers

1- What is a saying, quote or phrase that motivates you?

“When you win to a fool, you've lost. And I think that works really well in life. If somebody is not making sense to you or you don't agree with what they're saying, you keep trying to dig in and fight it, it will only make things worse, just move on.”

2- What advice do you have for others working to innovate in healthcare?

“Focus on the behavioral aspects of healthcare, particularly healthcare technology. Developing the tech has become relatively trivial.  The hard part is now understanding the behavioral science around it, developing these technologies with a very strong focus on behavioral science.”

3- What book do you recommend to our listeners?

Outliers – by Malcolm Gladwell

Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality – by Jaron Lanier

Get your free audio book on

4- What’s the best tech that makes your life better and easier?

Alivecor® KardiaMobile EKG Monitor – Wireless EKG

5- If I gave you a check for $5 million for you to invest in health technology today, how would you invest it?

“I would focus on companies that have experience in clinical medicine who have realistic goals about whether, when and how to use their technology, and are using evidence-based medicine and behavioral science. That's a vague answer, but I'm putting my money in companies that are taking this stuff seriously and have use cases that are easy to describe that really matter to patients, and who are working absolutely directly with patients from the ground floor at the very initiation of their development, using design thinking and following the best practices for ideation and prototyping.”

6- We make a contribution to a charity in appreciation of your time on the show – what charity have you selected and can you tell us a little about what they do?

American College of Gastroenterology – Brennan nominated this organization, however we've not been able to arrange an online donation before this podcast went live.  So, instead, we made a gift to Stand up to Cancer.  If we are able to make an online donation, to the American College of Gastroenterology, we'll be sure to do so!

As mentioned on the podcast:

Dan Kendall

Dan Kendall


As an engineer and business leader, I've worked to develop, launch and scale innovative products and solutions that impact health and wellness. As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand what it takes to start a business, build a team, and compete in the global marketplace.

On Digital Health Today, I leverage my experiences to help great leaders and innovators tell their stories and connect to users, investors and other stakeholders.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Are you enjoying our podcasts? Click here to Leave a Review