How immersive AR/VR can make medical training more accessible

More businesses and industries are integrating virtual and augmented reality tools in their training processes every day. Affordable and versatile, serious immersive games have emerged as an effective way to recreate real-world situations without monopolizing precious and limited resources. No sector is better positioned to benefit from it than the health and medical sector.

Virtual and augmented reality environments are easily adaptable to meet many needs across all sectors. Solutions such as the ones we develop at MOLO17 enable organizations to seamlessly and affordably benefit from AR and VR environments, regardless of the manufacturer or the platform itself, in situations of prototyping, simulating and training.

For example, it can help absorb the increasing demand for healthcare professionals in many parts of the world where medical schools are scarce. It can also help to correct faulty habits, in this new post-pandemic, social-distancing era, as well as improve the efficiency of remote training.

As the world population grows, the global medical needs expand. For instance, in order to meet the expected minimum surgical needs of the developing countries, the total number of medical experts would have to double by 2030, according to industry projections. This means new medical schools will have to be built, and medical equipment will have to be manufactured in greater quantity, thus increasing the overall cost of healthcare services.

VR: virtual platform, real-life skills

Surgeons in the operating room after virtual simulation

Off-the-shelf VR headsets are already being used by medical schools in Europe and North America. Experts are now starting to use these online virtual platforms in order to share their expertise and knowledge with under-developed countries. The technology is already helping to save lives in Asia and sub-saharan Africa.

Medical students can perform several simulated operations on any given day, with the oversight and support of a remote, skilled teacher, and try to meet a specific target time and accuracy rate. They acquire skills and identify gaps in their knowledge more rapidly than by having to submit their work in a more traditional fashion. Different skill sets can also be taught using a similar simulation environment, whether there is a need to train more surgeons, technicians or nurses. Some health professionals say that virtual environments help reduce the level of stress of new surgeons once in the operating room. The experience of going through all the steps of a procedure, even in VR, has a reassuring real-life effect.

Real-time decision-making analysis and feedback

VR and AR training tools are being used in an increasing number of professional sectors, where they are continuously being improved to provide real-time analysis and feedback. Certain training programs will use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to analyze the students‘ decision-making process and communication skills in real time. This is particularly useful in a stressful environment.

It can also help develop „softer“ skills, such as empathizing with the patients, showing the proper level of emotions, interacting properly with the other students and teammates during a specific procedure.

We cannot put a price on human life. But there is a cost to this rapidly increasing demand for medical professionals across the globe, and it can only be met by shifting to a more modern and versatile training environment. The virtual reality platforms offer that type of environment, at a fraction of the cost of building new medical schools, thus ensuring we can train as many healthcare specialists as the world needs. 

A concrete example of virtual simulation in the field of medical education? To learn more, read the case study, a project in collaboration with the University of Udine (Italy), in our next article.

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