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How can VR enhance Medical Education?

Zornitsa Vuteva 4 weeks ago 0 2

The medical field is constantly evolving, and the way students learn is no exception. With the rise of VR technology, medical educators are now leveraging immersive experiences to enhance the learning process and better prepare future healthcare professionals. By simulating real-world scenarios, VR allows students to engage in hands-on training, practice complex procedures, and develop essential skills in a safe and controlled environment.

This innovative approach has the potential to revolutionize medical education, improving patient outcomes and enhancing the overall quality of care.

Applications of VR in medical education

Virtual reality has a wide range of applications in medical education, with the most common being the development of technical competencies such as surgical skills and anatomy education. The following are key ways VR is used in medical training include:

Surgical Training

VR allows medical students and residents to practice surgical procedures in a risk-free, simulated environment. This enables them to hone their skills and gain confidence before operating on real patients. Studies show VR surgical training improves educational outcomes in 74% of cases and enhances operational precision in 87% of practitioners.

Anatomy Education

VR provides highly detailed 3D models of the human body that students can visualize and manipulate. This allows for more interactive and immersive anatomy learning compared to traditional methods like textbooks and cadaver dissection. VR anatomy education has been shown to improve students’ 3D visualization and spatial skills.

Clinical Scenario Training

VR simulations can recreate real-life medical emergencies and treatment situations. This prepares students to handle challenging clinical scenarios with greater confidence and capability. The immersive nature of VR provides a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

Empathy and Communication Training

A less common but promising application of VR in medical education is teaching ‘soft skills’ like empathy and communication. This often involves interacting with virtual patients to develop bedside manner and patient interaction skills in a safe, simulated environment.

Medical Equipment Training

VR simulations enable students to safely practice operating medical equipment such as surgical tools, monitors, and other devices. This helps flatten the learning curve and ensures that students become proficient before using the equipment on real patients.

Remote and Scalable Training

VR-based medical education is remote-friendly, allowing students to practice and learn from wherever is convenient for them. This enhances accessibility and enables training to scale to larger numbers of students simultaneously.

Measurable Performance Assessments

VR apps can track and measure each student’s actions, movements, and decision-making during virtual procedures. This data facilitates objective evaluations, personalized feedback, and identification of targeted areas for improvement.

Benefits of VR use in medical education

These benefits highlight the significant potential of VR in transforming medical education and improving patient care:

Cost-Effective Training

VR eliminates the need for expensive and often single-use training equipment and biological models. Instead, it allows for applications that can be run multiple times by multiple trainees simultaneously, reducing costs.

Increased Accessibility

VR training is remote-friendly, allowing students to practice and learn from anywhere, which is particularly important for attracting new students and teachers who may not be able to attend physical classes.

Improved Learning Efficiency

VR-based training can significantly improve learning efficiency. Studies have shown that students who undergo VR-based training have a higher pass rate for tasks trained with VR compared to conventionally trained groups, with some tasks performed faster with VR.

Enhanced Spatial Visualization

VR enables students to visualize and manipulate detailed 3D models of anatomical structures, improving their knowledge of anatomy and enhancing their ability to diagnose and treat patients more effectively.

Increased Realism

Medical Training VR

VR simulations closely replicate real-world scenarios, bridging the gap between theory and practice in medical and nursing education.

Measurable Performance Assessments

VR apps can track and measure each user’s actions, movements, and decision-making processes during virtual procedures, providing objective evaluations and personalized feedback for improvement.

Reduced Risk

VR simulations allow students to practice complex procedures in a safe environment, reducing the risk of harm to patients and improving their confidence in performing these procedures.

Personalized Guidance

VR training can provide personalized guidance for improvement based on user performance data, enhancing the overall learning experience.

Drawbacks and challenges of integrating VR in medical education

Challenges such as reduced face-to-face communications, educational obstacles, cost challenges, and users’ attitudes may hinder the effective utilization of VR in medical education and treatment. The listed examples highlight the need for strategic planning and collaboration to successfully integrate VR technology into medical training programs.

Adoption and Resistance to Change

Introducing new technologies, such as VR for medical training, could encounter resistance from faculty members who need to be convinced of its benefits and adapt to new teaching methods.

Limited Content Availability

One of the obstacles faced in medical training is the scarcity of high-quality and medically accurate virtual reality content, making it hard to find suitable material for educational purposes.

High Costs

Implementing VR technology in medical institutions can be challenging due to the significant costs associated with VR hardware, software, content development, equipment maintenance, and staff requirements.

Technical Issues

Integrating VR technologies with existing IT infrastructure may prove difficult as achieving compatibility between VR software and hardware components can be a complex task.

Motion Sickness and Discomfort

Some users may experience motion sickness or discomfort when using VR headsets, which can create barriers to long-term use and negatively impact the learning experience.

Evaluation

Traditional assessment methods may not be adequate for evaluating performance in VR-based learning experiences, requiring educators to develop new methods to assess student progress in virtual environments.

Data Privacy and Security

The use of VR in medical education often involves collecting and storing sensitive data, necessitating medical schools and instructors to implement measures to protect data and comply with relevant privacy regulations.

VR tools for medical education

It is worth mentioning some of the most successful and practically useful VR tools intended specifically for medical training:

SyncVR Medical

SyncVR Medical is a Danish platform that simplifies the implementation of Virtual Reality (VR) technology in healthcare organizations. SyncVR Medical offers a platform with a library of over 45 medical VR software applications. These applications include tools to reduce pain, anxiety, and medication usage, as well as VR training simulations for medical professionals. They facilitate the integration of VR in healthcare organizations by providing healthcare-approved VR hardware, CE-certified software, workshops, and research collaborations. The team at SyncVR Medical collaborates directly with doctors, nurses, researchers, and patients. By utilizing VR technology, healthcare organizations can achieve improved patient outcomes, cost reduction, and enhanced experiences for staff and patients. VR can help patients relax, educate them about their conditions and treatments, and involve them in rehabilitation efforts.

SyncVR Medical’s platform is accessible to over 15,000 departments throughout Europe. It caters to a variety of healthcare specialties and is suitable for use by nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals. SyncVR Medical has formed a partnership with Psylaris, a startup that is developing remote EMDR therapy using VR. Together, they aim to introduce the benefits of EMDR-VR to hospitals through pilot projects.

OramaVR

ORamaVR, a deep technology startup, specializes in developing medical extended reality (XR) training simulations within the healthcare technology domain. The company was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has received a total of $2.46 million in funding through its incubator and accelerator programs.

MAGES SDK is ORamaVR’s award-winning authoring platform, enabling the creation of high-fidelity medical XR simulations for hospitals, medical schools, and surgical training centers. The platform aims to improve medical training and patient outcomes by providing realistic, interactive learning environments. ORamaVR is dedicated to accelerating the world’s transition to medical XR training by offering an IT software platform called MAGES SDK.

This platform empowers institutions and developers to create high-fidelity medical XR simulations rapidly and affordably for training and assessing medical professionals. ORamaVR plans to evolve its low-code medical XR training SDK into an affordable no-code platform, allowing a wider range of users to populate a scientifically validated marketplace of high-fidelity medical XR training simulations.

ORamaVR is actively involved in two Swiss-funded, multi-partner Innovation Innosuisse projects: Intelligent Digital Surgeon (IDS) and PROFICIENCY. In IDS, ORamaVR contributes to implementing an embodied virtual agent that can identify and analyze trainee gestures using non-VR special motion capture sensors and vision-based AI methods. In PROFICIENCY, ORamaVR is involved in implementing a 2D desktop-VR app, an AR guidance application for THA, and multi-user AR/VR capabilities for immersive remote OR participation.

Conclusion

While VR has made significant progress in medical education, there are still important gaps to address. Future research should explore the use of VR for non-technical skills training, in group settings, and with more novel VR modalities such as mobile VR and virtual dissection tables. As VR technology continues to advance and costs decrease, its applications in healthcare education will likely expand, raising the standards of patient care and medical proficiency.

Written By

Meet Zornitsa, our Content Manager, specializing in all things VR headsets and innovative VR use cases. With a passion for exploring the latest in virtual reality technology, Zornitsa is your trusted source for expert insights and informative content that will elevate your VR experience.

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