February 22, 2024

Chronic pain has a substantial economic impact on the United States, costing an

estimated $635 billion annually. While VR has been studied and used in various

acute and chronic pain conditions for decades, headset technology has only

recently become simple to use and broadly accessible, and it continues to improve.

AppliedVR, a California-based company pioneering immersive virtual reality for

medical therapeutic use, has achieved a remarkable feat, working with the Centers

for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to include RelieVRx® in the existing benefit

category for durable medical equipment (DME), the first immersive VR therapeutic

to follow this strategy to tap into existing payment authority.


Home-based VR therapies like RelieVRx® hold the potential to broaden access

to effective and on-demand nonpharmacologic treatments for chronic lower

back pain that are durable well beyond the end of treatment. Understanding

reimbursement as a combination of coding, coverage, and payment provides the

context for the hurdles all new technologies must clear. Regulatory strategy may

be underappreciated in terms of its influence on reimbursement success, and this

was certainly key to the decisions related to code assignment and granting the

benefit category as DME for RelieVRx®.


Understanding the intricacies of reimbursement codes and benefit categories is

crucial for innovators seeking to navigate the evolving landscape of virtual reality

in healthcare. It is essential to keep an eye on emerging trends and codes to make

informed decisions and leverage opportunities for reimbursement in this rapidly

evolving field. Founders of VR healthcare companies should vigilantly monitor the

evolving reimbursement landscape and how changes may influence their business

model. By capitalizing on these established reimbursement options and staying

attuned to emerging trends, healthcare providers can harness the full potential

of VR technology in delivering innovative and effective treatments.