Surgeon entrepreneur bets on virtual reality to boost surgical training

Dr. Justin Barad is a gamer, so it makes sense he would be drawn to virtual reality. As a high schooler, he started the computer science team he interned at.

As a high schooler, Barad started the computer science team. He interned at Activision, and was all set to be a game developer. But then Barad started to think about how he could help people. He ended up in biomedical engineering, working at a medical device startup, and then attending medical school. Gaining experience during his residency helped him decipher a problem in surgical training, as well as a possible solution.

Today, Barad is a practicing pediatric orthopedic surgeon and a cofounder of Osso VR a startup that offers immersive 360-degree simulations of medical device surgical training software. His company hopes to shorten the knowledge gap between training and performing surgery, giving surgeons more realistic experience and increasing patient safety.

The trouble with surgical training

“What I noticed throughout my training was that the actual surgical techniques, specifically regarding medical devices, were really the responsibility of the medical device company,” Barad said. Training in these procedures took the form of dinners or infrequent courses. “But in a typical day I didn’t really have enough time to eat lunch and see my wife, let alone find time to make it to these courses,” he said. And this reality is true for many attending physicians.

Even with the time to attend training, Barad noted that the space between attending a course and first in-patient use can be anywhere from 4 to 6 months. And there is very little opportunity to practice in between, perhaps a video to review.

“Imagine studying for a test once and then taking that test 6 months later,” he said. “It just seems crazy.”

Barad admits that given such constraints, surgeons who want to use a new medical device might “wing it” a little bit. They might have someone read the technical guide aloud during a procedure, or a rep to walk them through a case. “It seemed pretty unstructured.”

By Heather Thompson | Medical Design & Outsourcing

Image Credit: Osso VR

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