VirtaMedEd: Delivering Simulation Training Across Europe
VirtaMed, a medical education company, has been developing surgical simulators since 2007. The company now produces simulators for a number of medical specialties, including orthopedics, laparoscopy, urology and obstetrics and gynecology. To support continued medical education during COVID-19, VirtaMed has taken their simulators on “tour” several times, providing workshops for residents across Switzerland, France and Germany. Deemed impactful by educators and residents alike, most tour participants agreed that surgical simulation should absolutely be a training requirement!
Switzerland Surgical Simulation Tour
During 2020, VirtaMed launched a new way of providing medical training with the latest healthcare simulation solutions. Thus, Switzerland’s first mobile surgical simulation lab toured for three months, delivering risk-free training to the doors of university hospitals.
Equipped with the latest mixed reality simulators, the mobile surgical simulation lab covered over 2000 kilometers (1250 miles) across Switzerland. In total, the lab visited 16 Swiss university hospitals, beginning in St. Gallen, continuing to Lucerne, Berne and Geneva and ending in Lausanne.
During this tour, residents received training in different medical specialties, including orthopedics, OB-GYN and general surgery. They were granted the opportunity to improve their performance in the most realistic and motivational simulation environment possible while being led by clinical simulation experts.
According to VirtaMed, a highlight of the tour was introducing the new LaparoS laparoscopy simulator to residents. This next generation laparoscopic simulator uniquely offers training for key steps of laparoscopic procedures, including realistic patient positioning, free trocar placement and the ability for several surgeons to simultaneously operate on the same virtual patient.
“With this wonderful initiative, we had the chance to offer training everywhere in Switzerland. For me, it was an energizing ‘back to the roots!’ I started my simulation journey more than 15 years ago in the laparoscopic training center in Zurich,” said Dr. Martina Vitz, vice president of training and education at VirtaMed. “With LaparoS, VirtaMed now offers also laparoscopy training, and the difference between now and then is significant. I am really proud that we could so positively contribute to surgical training during this crisis.”
France Surgical Simulation Tour
VirtaMed’s second surgical simulation tour in France was launched in September 2020 in collaboration with the French Association of Surgery (AFC) and the STAN Institute. Starting in Strasbourg in and and delivering a final round of surgical training at the Marseille University Hospital Center for Surgical Education and Research (CERC) in March 2021, this trip continued to bring hands-on training to residents currently impacted by COVID-19
This tour stop was appropriate because the High Authority for Health (HAS) in France reiterates the fundamental principle of “never the first time on a patient,” which is particularly relevant to surgery and therefore surgery simulation.
Professor Patrick Pessaux, president of the French Association of Surgery (AFC), noted that, “The mobile surgical simulation laboratory plays an essential role in promoting simulation as a training tool in many university hospitals. We are delighted to partner with VirtaMed and bring the latest generation of simulators to our colleagues. The health crisis has had a negative impact on surgical training, but this joint initiative shows how much a pioneering spirit can succeed.”
Germany Medical Simulation Tour
In February 2021, VirtaMed kicked off their third tour and training initiative with the German Knee Society (DKG) at the Martin Luther Krankenhaus in Berlin. Equipped with VirtaMed’s arthroscopy simulator, the ArthroS, this trip demonstrated both VirtaMed and DKG’s commitment to finding innovative ways to deliver training. The lab now travels across Germany to ensure that orthopedic residents within the country can safely practice their skills during covid and in a risk-free environment outside of the operating room.
“The training of residents and future generations of surgeons is an essential subject for the DKG and it is why simulation-based training plays an important part. The lessons drawn from this healthcare crisis prompt us to rethink the way residents are trained,” Prof. Wolf Petersen, president of the DKG, said.
New Normal: 1hr Per Week of Simulation Training
During all three tours, VirtaMed collected data from residents showing that prior to this tour stop, 60% had already had experience with virtual reality simulation. After the training, 100% of residents surveyed felt that simulation training was beneficial and 80% felt that it should be mandatory. Additionally, respondents concluded that 40 hours per year is the average minimum time that residents want to be mandated for healthcare simulation, close to 1 hour per week. This translates to about an hour of mandatory clinical simulation per week.
“This data matches perfectly with the Humanitas University in Italy, which has just announced that they are implementing a minimum of one hour mandatory simulation training for first-year orthopedic residents,” said Phil Norris, vice president of marketing at VirtaMed.
More About VirtaMed
VirtaMed develops and produces highly realistic surgical simulators for medical education and training purposes. The company’s mission is to alter the way medical skills are taught so that learners can systematically improve their skills prior to treating patients firsthand. This helps to eliminate potential risk factors that could cause harm to real-life patients. VirtaMed’s simulation platform offers the following unique features:
- Compatibility with all VirtaMed training specialities
- Ability to switch between different modules in less than one minute
- Reliability and robustness of Swiss engineering
In pursuit of this mission, VirtaMed’s vision is then to improve the quality of medical care with state-of-the-art, virtual-reality-based medical training and education. Since inception, a team of engineers focused on the future of surgical education have worked to combine customer orientation, agility, diversity and passion to create advanced surgical training tools. To date, numerous cutting-edge simulators have been developed and produced under the team’s leadership.
Lance Baily, BA, EMT-B, is the Founder & CEO of HealthySimulation.com, which he started while serving as the Director of the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas back in 2010. Lance is also the Founder and acting Advisor to the Board of SimGHOSTS.org, the world’s only non-profit organization dedicated to supporting professionals operating healthcare simulation technologies. His new co-edited Book: “Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice” is available now. Lance’s background also includes serving as a Simulation Technology Specialist for the LA Community College District, EMS fire fighting, Hollywood movie production, rescue diving, and global travel. He lives with his wife Dr. Abigail Baily in Las Vegas, Nevada with their newborn daughter and two crazy dachshunds.