Fellows and medical students need a risk-free way to practice high-stake surgical procedures in order to boost trainee confidence and minimize surgical errors.
Clinical Impact- There has been a paradigm shift in the field of medicine from the perspective of training incoming students and practitioners. Medicine is one of the few domains where no practice is performed before a high-stakes event surgery. For instance, is a surgeon able to practice a particular cardiac surgery before it is to be done? The impact of this lack of practice is significant, especially in the case of rare conditions with few surgical instances. The current method of training occurs through apprenticeship where the students and fellows observe the physician performing the surgery and then practice on the patient himself. To avoid potential complications in such a scenario, simulation-based training has been proposed as an alternative. This would occur through the use of a VR headset and associated handheld devices (that provide tactile feedback) that incorporate specific surgeries physicians are about to perform. Not only can physicians practice an unlimited number of times, but they can do so in a low-risk environment. This shift will increase confidence amongst inexperienced trainees, decrease patient exposure to potential surgical errors, and ultimately improve their outcome. Technical Feasibility – this project would require the creation of a virtual-reality based game, one in which surgical simulations can be performed. Given that VR is not a typical medium we currently encounter in our daily lives yet, issues that arise in terms of software will be more difficult to solve due to the minimal information online relative to other mediums. Furthermore, this would require the members and the leader to learn an entirely new system (Unreal 4 is the software usually used for the generation of VR games). Although it may seem daunting at first, there are tutorials online, and free software that can be used to build such a platform. It will be a challenge, but definitely one the team is looking forward to tackling.Commercial Opportunity – there are various competitors out there creating products which are not entirely similar to this concept. For instance, VirtaMed has a product that allows physicians to practice endoscopic procedures using real surgical tools (Medical Training Simulators, 2017).
- Specific for certain surgeries only
- Large and bulky
- Requires purchase of hardware and software
- Cost – unknown
Another potential competitor is zSpace which offers medical education through virtual learning. However, this is simply a way to visualize anatomical structures without any interaction with them. The beauty of such a project is its instant appeal and demonstration capabilities. At business plan competitions, one can test the VR headset on the spot and show the results, therefore generating a large impact amongst the judges. Furthermore, the change in regulation of the American Society of Radiology to simulation-based training, in addition to the Chief of Radiology at Hopkins Hospital being a strong supporter of such a VR system implies that we will have strong support and credibility in this field.