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Connected surgical training – a new era for surgical education

Connected surgical training – a new era for surgical education

On day 2 of Med-Tech Innovation Expo, Dr Elliot Street from Inovus Medical will present on bringing surgical training models to market. Here the company provides some industry insight, and a flavour of what visitors to the HealthTech stage can expect. 

Inovus Medical CEO, Dr Elliot Street said: “The recent global pandemic has shown us the importance of technology in allowing professionals to connect even when separated physically and geographically. At Inovus Medical we have addressed the need for trainers and trainees to be connected in a way never before possible, ensuring high fidelity surgical training can continue in the face of physical, geographical and financial barriers across the globe.”

Simulation based training for surgical procedures has been gaining steady traction over the course of the last decade, proving to be an effective and safe learning environment to perform and record simulated ‘full surgical procedures’ as well as basic skills tasks.

With the more recent advent of ‘digital surgery’, the delivery of training in the live theatre environment is changing significantly. The result is a suite of emerging technologies that are allowing surgical training to be ‘connected’ in a way never previously possible.

There are several factors driving these tectonic shifts in surgical training, none starker than the COVID-19 pandemic which has decimated the traditional delivery of surgical training courses through lockdowns and social distancing measures. Elective lists and the traditional ‘training cases’ in which trainee surgeons would gain their real-life experience have either halted entirely or been drastically reduced in number. These changes have compounded the underlying issues of lack of access and underwhelming functionality of existing simulation options. As a result, the majority of trainee surgeons in the UK and across the globe are experiencing short falls in their training with increasing risk of skills fade, as such, they are turning to technology to fill the gaps. 

Traditional simulation technology such as VR systems have been readily available on the market for some time to offer simulated experiences. Their shortcomings for the modern-day training environment are, however, many. The need to hone skills in a risk-free environment is driving an emergent demand for ‘take home training’. To replace the traditional training shortfalls, this take-home training must provide realistic haptic feedback and the ability for connected learning with outcome focussed reporting. Affordability is a major factor in delivering on this new need for training and can only truly be achieved through novel technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) where virtual and real environments are combined to meet these training demands. 

With support and funding through SBRI Healthcare, funded by NHS England, healthcare simulation company Inovus Medical are the first company in the simulation training sector to incorporate both connected learning and haptic feedback into their product development as a means of offering surgical trainees the opportunity to train from anywhere in the world be it; in a simulation centre, hospital or at home allowing them to connect with their trainer through an online training portal and experience highly realistic simulated training. The system developed by Inovus, LapAR, utilises real feel soft tissue models and real laparoscopic instruments to provide unparalleled functionality. 

Inovus Medical has used a novel approach to develop what it calls ‘functional Augmented Reality’ by merging real feel simulated soft tissue models with digital anatomy and ensuring seamless interaction between both the digital and real environments. The company has developed a proprietary method for triggering and managing intraoperative complications such as bleeding vessels and bowel perforations. The technology also allows tracking of decision making and tracking surgical performance combined with an online portfolio to show progression in skill over time.

The LapAR platform allows surgeons to practise a range of procedures across the specialities of general surgery and gynaecology. Instrument tracking technology enables capture of instrument handling and performance metrics with performance data displayed in an online platform. The system is already in use across the UK, North America and Asia Pacific and is proving to be the perfect tool for delivering surgical training in the COVID era and beyond.

Med-Tech Innovation Expo will take place on 28-29 September 2021 at the NEC, Birmingham.

Med-Tech Innovation

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