Australian hospitals leveraging VR tech to fast-track clinician training

Hospitals in Australia are starting to utilise virtual reality technology in practising life-saving procedures, cutting down the training time from months to days.

In an interview with Healthcare IT News, Australian VR startup Vantari VR said four tertiary hospitals have been using its VR training platform in critical care, including Fiona Stanley Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Westmead Hospital and Nepean Hospital.

Using flight-simulator technology, Vantari VR provides medical training using a VR headset and laptop. Its modules cover 90% of medical procedures as part of doctors’ core training and deliver steps that are recommended by college guidelines. 

In its partner hospitals, junior doctors and trainees were tasked to perform three to five sessions of procedures using the Vantari VR platform before they could perform the procedure on patients.

In Fiona Stanley Hospital, for example, over 20 registrars have been educated to perform chest drain insertions.

“It was much quicker than waiting for a workshop day (weeks-months) or a whole simulation workshop (takes a day), compared to approximately 10 minutes in our software. It is also more engaging than using online modules such as videos or literature,” said Vantari VR Co-founder Dr Nishanth Krishnananthan.

Aside from reducing training times, the use of VR may save hospitals “millions of dollars” in medical compensation yearly by minimising medical errors, the VR company claimed. Based on the Quality in Australian Health Care study, around 18,000 people may die in hospitals each year due to medical errors.

THE LARGER TREND

In April, Vantari VR was awarded a $100,000 grant from Epic Games, the American video game company behind the online game Fortnite. Presently, the startup seeks to raise $2 million from a funding round that will close in August.

ON THE RECORD

“The ability to practise and learn life-saving procedures in virtual reality before having to perform these procedures on real patients is of great benefit. The cost of medical education in terms of infrastructure, equipment and educator or student time is significant,” said Dr Robert Swart, an anaesthetic consultant and the Innovation lead at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“With virtual reality, you can provide the education in almost any area [such as] a small office space where one can load multiple different educational scenarios instantaneously without the need for equipment, mannequins etc and the learner can do self-directed education,” he added.

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