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VR & AR help train surgeons in dealing with life-threatening situations

Simon Brooksbank / 10 days ago

The VR healthcare market is expected to be worth $7.05 Billion by 2026 and that’s no surprise given advances in the effectiveness and cost efficiency of VR in healthcare training. With medical mistakes having potentially catastrophic consequences, effective training is absolutely crucial. One of the advantages of VR in healthcare is in its ability to recreate real-life scenarios, allowing doctors to practice and hone their skills without the risk of harm to patients. 

By recreating medical scenarios within a virtual environment, doctors can continue to practice until they are confident in their ability to carry out procedures safely and accurately. This is particularly important for operations that are rarely carried out during training - one study examining the case logs of graduating residents, showed that just 15 percent of 121 critical procedures were performed more than 10 times during the 5-7 years of surgical training.

Given these statistics, it’s clear that there is a demand for innovative technologies to assist in training. Having previously relied on dummies and basic simulators for training, VR brings a new level of detail and a truly immersive and realistic experience.

When we think of training for surgery, we think of those who are entering the profession, such as junior and trainee surgeons, but VR has much to offer even the most experienced of surgeons. With continuous evolution in surgery techniques and technologies, VR provides a safe platform for experienced surgeons to trial the latest advances. It’s far safer than checking Google mid way through operating on a real patient. Yes, you read that correctly: one orthopaedic surgeon confessed to this happening several times in his career! 

Let’s take a look at three great examples of how VR is being successfully utilised by health organisations:

VR for 360° live-stream surgery

A leading colorectal surgeon at St Bartholomew’s uses VR during his complex surgeries to train other surgeons from all around the globe on a mass scale. This highlights just how cost efficient VR can be  – allowing thousands of students to receive training at once, rather than just one or two at a time. Using VR enables the surgeon to virtually bring people into the operating theatre and see them as computerised avatars in the room, the closest you can get to actually being there. 

VR for practising neurosurgical operations

VR’s ability to provide a window into the brain prior to operation can even save lives. One Neurosurgeon, of Stanford Medicine, explains how he uses VR to take a virtual tour of his patient’s brain before operating to detect any life-threatening conditions. In one case, he was able to detect an artery attached to the top of the patient’s aneurysm that would not have been picked up in conventional imaging. Had he not known about it prior to surgery, the consequences could have been disastrous. We told you VR is quite literally helping to save lives!

VR revolutionising surgery education

Another leading cardiac surgeon in Nebraska advocates for VR in training students to develop their surgical skills as it offers realistic simulated environments. While students typically retain 5% of information gained from traditional lectures, this increases to around 90% with hands-on practice. 

With medical errors being recorded as the third leading cause of death in the US, there has never been a better time for the use of VR in healthcare training to be expanded. On top of the benefits that VR has in surgical training, VR has huge potential for use within the wider healthcare system. Stay tuned for more on this! 

If you think VR can help with your organisation’s training, whatever the industry, we can help! Contact us at: hello@blend.media