AXA Hong Kong, CUHK, and Oxford VR announce partnership to pilot VR immersive therapy

May 3, 2019 – AXA Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Oxford VR have announced an agreement on a partnership to pilot a automated immersive therapy using virtual reality for mental health in Asia including the Greater Bay Area.

The pilot focuses on a jointly supported clinically-validated trial in Hong Kong using a modern VR technology platform for managing common mental health issues, such as social avoidance, anxiety and depressive symptoms, in people’s daily lives and work.

The partnership brings together AXA Hong Kong’s understanding of the Asian healthcare market, CUHK’s strength for academics and research and Oxford VR’s clinical expertise in developing psychological therapies using immersive technology.

“AXA’s strategy is to transform from payer to partner to our customers,” said Gordon Watson, Chief Executive Officer of AXA Asia. “Our customers are telling us they want to have easier access to expertise and support for their mental wellbeing. We know the technology from Oxford VR works as it is already used in the UK National Health Service. AXA is proud to bring this technology to Hong Kong and Asia. Not only will we provide educational awareness on the topic and improve access to psychological services, but the partnership with CUHK will build the research evidence to advance care for common mental health conditions worldwide. This is a clear demonstration of our strategy coming to life by engaging professional stakeholders and offering innovative solutions to promote people’s wellbeing in Asia.”

Professor Fanny Cheung, Pro-Vice-Chancellor / Vice-President of CUHK, said: “We are delighted to establish a collaboration with AXA Hong Kong and Oxford VR that integrates scientific research with innovative technology and training of talents in service delivery, to provide a new solution to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.”

Barnaby Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford VR, commented: “[the partnership] marks an exciting breakthrough for mental wellbeing in Asia and builds on our shared vision of making effective new mental health solutions available. Ambitious action is required to tackle the growing gap between demand and supply in mental healthcare. This is a solution whose time has come and demonstrates our commitment to accelerate the adoption of evidence-based automated immersive therapy in mental healthcare by fostering relationships between academia and industry.”

A variety of specially-designed scenarios will be developed for the clinically-verified trial, and will be offered in both English and Cantonese. The pilot will involve the recruitment of the public to participate in the trial and is expected to be completed next year. The partnership stated that further details will be announced at the upcoming launch in June.

Image credit: AXA Hong Kong/CUHK/Oxford VR