Virtual reality (VR) technology has the potential to revolutionize the way medical professionals learn, train, and work. By providing a realistic and immersive simulation environment, medical students, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals can gain invaluable experience in complex and life-threatening situations. The medical community is recognizing the potential of VR simulations, and the industry is growing rapidly with more innovations and funding being dedicated to this area. In this article, we will explore some of the latest virtual reality medical training platforms and their applications.
Virtual Reality Medical Simulation Platforms
SimX and Osso VR are two prominent examples of VR medical simulation platforms that allow medical professionals to train in a safe and controlled environment. The virtual reality simulations can be customized to each user’s requirement and are designed to replicate real-life hospital equipment and patient encounters. The platform offers multi-user simulations, where groups of trainees can interact, collaborate, and learn together. These simulations also include haptic feedback technology, which enhances sensory input to mimic the physical touch of medical devices and to provide a more realistic virtual training environment.
One of the biggest advantages of these VR simulation platforms is that they allow medical professionals to learn and practice procedures without posing a risk to real-life patients. Trainees can also repeat simulations until they are confident in their abilities, which might not be possible with live situations. These platforms also offer various analytical tools, including powerful reporting, performance tracking, and remote coaching, to assist clinicians in monitoring the progress of their trainees and providing feedback.
Other VR medical simulation platform providers are recognizing the value of highly customized content creation tools. By creating and providing custom VR training modules that are aligned with real patient case studies, the experience became more targeted to specific treatment areas. It is likely that in the near future, the medical community would see an expanded range of virtual training modules that cater to specific therapeutic areas such as cardiology, oncology, pediatrics, and others.
Additionally, VR medical simulations are not only limited to medical professionals but are used for training as well in other allied health professions, including dental, orthopedic hospitals, nursing VR training, and sales teams of medical device companies.
Virtual Reality in Emergency Response Training
VR Emergency Response Sim is an innovative virtual reality platform that offers emergency services training, including paramedic, law enforcement, and fire and rescue simulations. These VR scenarios allow trainees to practice real-life, high-risk situations in a safe and controlled environment, to gain hands-on experience and training. The VR emergency patient care scenarios are designed to test the medical practitioners’ clinical knowledge and decision-making skills, especially in critical situations.
The VR environment is hyper-realistic, and trainees train using VR headsets such as Oculus Rift headsets coupled with high-performance gaming laptops equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 graphics cards. The laptops feature Intel Core i5-4400E or i7-610 processors, with 8 GBs of RAM, 128, or 512 GB disk space, and Windows 10 64-bit operating systems. A high FPS monitor, essential for emergency services for difficult-to-spot details, is also present. In addition to individual training, the VR training system also offers multi-user VR training and remote mentoring service to trainees, sim tech experts, and trainers.
In recent years, the military has been at the forefront of medical VR training initiatives. The US Army utilizes VR simulations to teach battlefield triage, trauma medicine, and other critical applications. Hence simulated emergency medical scenarios for ground soldiers and pilots have become a priority for military medical VR training.
The VR technology in emergency training has also caught the attention of non-military organizations. One example is Novo Nordisk, who has partnered with Health Education England (HEE) and NHS England Diabetes Team to train more than 600 UK doctors about the dangers of extreme high or low blood sugar levels with VR simulations
Virtual Reality Training in Petrochemical Industry
VR simulations are not just limited to the healthcare profession but have also proven to be valuable training tools for industries such as petrochemicals. Ruth Lee Ltd, a UK-based manufacturer of rescues manikins, has introduced the Response Simulator VR, which offers immersive and realistic training scenarios in complex and hazardous environments. It addresses issues of safety, scalability, and expense that face training programs in the petrochemical industry.
The Response Simulator VR enables trainees to experience realistic training scenarios that are likely to be encountered in the petrochemical industry, and which are difficult to replicate in real-life. The VR simulations can be customized to diverse scenarios, including hazardous material releases, fires, and other fatal accidents. The platform offers features such as realistic audio effects, highly detailed visuals, and the ability to mimic haptic-enhanced interaction with objects. Besides, the Response Simulator VR is used for practicing critical decision-making by employees in risky situations.
The Response Simulator VR is more cost-effective compared to the traditional models of the training of employees. The equipment and materials required during the installation process are easily scalable, whereas in real-life situations, not everything is predictable, and every scenario is different.
The benefits of the Response Simulator VR extend beyond industry. It has applications that can also be customized in other fields and can extend to manufacturing and construction industries, providing a platform for immersive, hands-on repetition of complex and difficult tasks.
Virtual Reality Medical Training Pioneer
Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) has emerged as a leader in the medical simulation industry, providing ultra-realistic, clinical decision-making simulations to over 80 healthcare organizations worldwide. The UK-based physician-founded company provides VR technology, which enhances healthcare professionals’ clinical knowledge and supports patient care, leading to better healthcare outcomes.
OMS offers medical simulations for emergency services, primary care, and mental health professionals. The simulations feature real patient stories, situations, and testimonies from patient volunteers and clinicians, immersing the trainees in realistic scenarios that mimic real-life, and preparing them to recognize and intervene in diverse patient cases.
OMS provides simulations that have been integrated into nationwide health systems and clinical simulation centers, making it possible for medical students to practice and for clinicians to advance their knowledge and skills remotely. Among the advantages of OMS’s medical VR training solutions are customized content creation, hyper-realistic environment and high-fidelity simulation, and remote hands-on interactivity that helps reinforce key learning objectives.
Virtual reality technology is transforming medical training, making it immersive and safe for healthcare professionals, ensuring that they have the critical experience they need to perform at a high level. The technology is at a stage where it is accessible to a wide range of medical sectors, including dentistry, surgery, nursing, and allied health professionals. It has applications that can also be customized in other fields beyond healthcare.
Simulation-based training in virtual reality is not just limited to training, but it has the potential to improve treatment outcomes too. It prepares healthcare workers to be more responsive and to have confidence in their abilities to handle complex medical situations, leading to improved patient care.
As virtual reality keeps growing and advancing, technology should become more accessible, and infrastructure more cost-effective, driving innovation and growth in the simulation industry. Virtual reality technology is still in its early stages, but as it gains traction, there’s no telling what kind of breakthroughs it might bring to bridging the gap between the theoretical and practical aspects of medical education.