NHS VR Experience Delivers Blood ID and Storage Training

What is it?

The Blood Identification VR app is designed to show learners the consequences of administering a transfusion following incorrect blood identification, emphasizing the relationship between blood identification processes and patient wellbeing.

The client for this project is NHSBT, the National Health Service Blood and Transplant in the UK. They are a key authority in the country’s healthcare system, responsible for blood donation and organ transplantation services. NHSBT needed a consistently repeatable learning experience that enabled learners to practise procedures without having to use lab resources, in a risk free environment and in their own time.

This learning experience is intended to be used as a training tool primarily for recently qualified doctors and biomedical students, particularly for those participating in the Practical Introduction to Transfusion Science (PITS) training course.

The app is available to purchase via Meta App Lab.

NHSBT’s challenge

Recently qualified doctors and biomedical students will have a good overall understanding of medicine, but may have little or no experience of blood transfusion. Mistakes in identifying blood types or in assigning an incorrect blood type for transfusion can have serious, potentially fatal, consequences for patients. NHSBT needed a way for students to repeatedly and consistently practise the procedures for identifying blood types and matching patients to suitable transfusion blood packs. This should take place in a safe environment where the consequences are made clear, without putting actual patients at risk or consuming valuable resources.

A gif showing part of the NHSBT Blood Identification app. The learner gently moves a tile with blood samples to mix them with testing chemicals.

Learners must gently move the tile of blood samples to help them react with the testing chemicals, without letting the droplets run into each other.

Our solution

The VR experience was designed to serve as a practical, immersive supplement to the theoretical knowledge that the learners have, providing a safe environment for them to learn and understand the consequences of their actions without risking patient safety.


  • Interactive VR Experience: The learner is placed in a simulated environment where they can interact with various elements such as blood bags, a patient, and transfusion equipment. They are guided through the process of initiating a transfusion and can see the outcomes of their decisions in real-time.
  • Scenario-Based Learning: The VR experience presents a scenario where the learner has to administer a blood transfusion to a patient. The consequences of their actions (i.e., whether they chose the correct or incorrect blood type) are then shown, providing immediate feedback and reinforcing the importance of correct blood identification.
  • 3D Models and Animations: The experience includes 3D models of transfusion equipment, the environment, and characters. There are animations showing the outcomes of the learner’s decisions, such as the successful integration of transfused blood or the bursting of red blood cells in the case of an incorrect transfusion.
  • Accessibility and Branding: The experience is designed with accessibility in mind, including clear labels on buttons and optimal colours for usability. The look and feel adhered to NHSBT’s brand guidelines.

The outcome

NHSBT was pleased to have a product to fill this gap in training capability. In particular, the fidelity of the 3D models and environment in relation to the real-world lab environment was well-received.

In 2024, we worked with NHSBT to make the app available to purchase via Meta’s App Lab.

As part of the launch, NHSBT invited a blood transfusion patient to try out the experience, along with using the real lab equipment. The patient who needs regular blood for thalassaemia said, “it was really exciting and informative to able to visit and try the Virtual Reality blood matching. The use of the headset enhanced the immersive experience and it was great to see what the process is when cross matching blood. I also enjoyed the experience of going into the lab and using real laboratory equipment.”

The experience

Watch the video to see some key moments from the experience. 

Further applications

Because outcomes, both positive and negative, are a very important aspect of acquiring blood transfusion skills, this simulation has a large number of possible outcomes depending on the choices the learner makes. This required a comprehensive and detailed test strategy to ensure all possible outcomes were fully tested. This experience has informed and improved our quality assurance approach for subsequent projects.

The development of this solution required us to use specialist shaders to ensure blood and other liquids looked realistic (a shader is code that controls how 3D objects appear in the scene). We also created bespoke logic to ensure the handling of pipettes in VR reflected the most important criteria for handling the real-world item, for example, applying the correct pressure when using the pipette. These developments have further application to other projects that require realistic presentation of liquids or for learners to use pipettes or similar devices.

Key Facts
Date Deployed
Oculus Quest
Key Features
Updated training experience
Complex interactions simulation
Designed to reduce finite materials wastage


Ruth Evans, Scientific and Clinical Training and Education Lead for NHSBT
"We’re delighted that the VR app we developed for training our own professionals has found a home on the Meta App Lab store and will reach so many more potential scientists. We have already discovered how much students on our own Introductory Blood Transfusion Science and Master’s degree courses have responded to using the app and the flexibility it allows in being able to learn effectively without a physical laboratory."
Vicki Chalker, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer at NHS England
"It’s fantastic to see the virtual reality training tool for blood typing developed by NHS Blood and Transplant widely available. The NHS Blood and Transplant training and education team should be proud of this innovation to improve quality and help patients get the blood they need. It’s not just a good way to learn, it’s informative, fun and can be used by young people, patients, professionals."
Jim Taylor, Head of Digital Education at the IBMS Head of Digital Education
"This pioneering use of technology enables NHSBT to blaze an exciting new trail in supplementing real-world pre-registration biomedical scientist training, using VR to foster a deeper understanding of intricate practice-related scenarios. The launch of their app not only advances accessibility to simulated training material for biomedical scientists to build confidence and refine competence; it also provides a dynamic and realistic virtual window into the intricate work of the diagnostic laboratory for non-scientists."

Get in touch

We’re always happy to talk to you about how immersive technologies can engage your employees and customers. If you have a learning objective in mind, or simply want to know more about emerging technologies like VR, AR, or AI, send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.