Surgical Training in Virtual Reality
Shafi Ahmed, co-founder of Virtual Medics and Medical Realities said he wants to be able to train thousands of surgeons at the same time using virtual reality.
According to the Lancet commission on global surgery, the surgical workforce would have to double to meet the needs of basic surgical care for the developing world by 2030.
Ahmed made a splash back in 2014 when he reached 14,000 surgeons across 100 different countries by using Google Glass to stream a surgical training session.
In 2016, Ahmed took this a step further by live-streaming a cancer surgery in virtual reality that was shot in 360-degree video while he removed a colon tumour from a patient.
He says, “Forget one-to-one. My idea is one to many. I want to share knowledge with the masses.” To achieve this, his company Medical Realities is building the world’s first interactive VR training module for surgeons.
Ahmed is working with virtual reality company Thrive to push the boundaries of remote collaboration in virtual reality.
The platform allows doctors to remotely log into a shared virtual office to discuss patient cases. Ahmed showed an example of four doctors from four various locations who logged into a virtual office together to discuss a patient’s case in real time. Inside the virtual office the doctors were even able to access and review patients’ medical files.
Virtual Reality for Therapeutics
Brennan Spiegel, a pioneer of VR in healthcare has witnessed first-hand the positive impact of using Virtual Reality with patients for therapeutic treatment. Spiegel leads a team that studies how technologies like smartphone apps, VR, wearable biosensors, and social media can improve health outcomes.
Spiegel told a story of a young adult suffering from severe Crohn’s disease, which made him to spend 100 days of the last year in the hospital. The most healing environment he can think of is his grandmother’s living room.
Spiegel’s team placed a Samsung 360 camera in the grandmother’s living room then give the patient a VR headset to virtually transport him there. The experience nearly brought him to tears and is a perfect example of how VR can make patients in hospital treatment more comfortable.
Spiegel’s team also had success using VR to help men with high blood pressure. Inside of the VR program, users are transported into a kitchen and educated on which types of food contain sodium. The program then brings users inside a human body, where they can see the targeted impact of the sodium intake.
Technology is great, especially when it helps a struggling patient or doctor seeking access to training, which is an extraordinary thing for health care.