Virtual reality: A medical training revolution during COVID-19

In 2009, a Halifax-based professor of neurosurgery, Dr. David Clarke, performed the first-ever virtual reality (VR)-based simulated surgery to remove a brain tumour. In 2016, Dr. Shafi Ahmed created another landmark at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London by live-streaming a colon surgery. For the first time in the history of medical science, a 360-degree camera captured and live-streamed every moment of the surgery making it accessible to a large number of viewers across the globe.

Over the last decade, virtual reality has become a game-changer for the healthcare industry in more than one way. But come 2020 and its adoption rate has seen a massive rise with every hospital or medical university rushing to implement VR applications to train professionals, perform surgery, or provide medical education remotely.

An effective way of training medical professionals

The ongoing global health crisis has crushed hospitals and medical facilities with the herculean task of accommodating the surge of patients amidst the acute shortage of medical professionals. To manage the situation, hospitals have reached out to retired doctors and nurses seeking urgent support. NHS alone has called up 20,000 retired medical professionals.

Not only retired professionals, medical and nursing students are also being called upon as front line workers. In March 2020, over 500,000 volunteers signed up to support NHS in its fight against the pandemic. 5,500 final year medical students along with 18,000 nursing students also joined NHS as front-line worker.

But returning professionals and students must be well-versed in the new digital health narrative. How do you do that when face-to-face training is not possible during a nationwide lockdown? To help out overburdened and under-resourced healthcare organisations, several VR simulation companies have come up with unique solutions that can ease the burden and train medical professionals much more effectively than the traditional training methodologies.

One such company is offering its (VR) medical training system free of cost to NHS, Imperial College London, Oxford University, Edinburgh Medical School, and other healthcare institutes in the UK, US, and Canada. Since March, around 17,000 professionals have been benefited through their animated, web-based training and upskilling initiative.

By Roshan Shetty | Med-Tech Innovation

Image Credit: Roshan Shetty | Med-Tech Innovation


About Peter Coffaro 487 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 25 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. Recognized by the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University.

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