Osso VR Raises $27 Million to Expand Surgical Simulation Training
In July 2021, Osso VR announced that the company has raised $27 million to help expand efforts to train physicians and other medical professionals through the use of virtual reality surgical simulation experiences. According to Osso VR, numerous hospitals have validated the company’s VR medical device simulation training and assessment platform resources as an effective means of training surgeons.
This announcement, featured by VentureBeat, also shared that the second institutional round of funding was led by GSR Ventures, with added participation from SignalFire, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, OCA Ventures, Scrum Ventures, Leslie Ventures and Anorak Ventures. According to OSSO VR co-founder and CEO, Justin Barad, M.D., the growth of the company and prominence in the market attracted a lot of attention and catalyzed the round.
He explained that being able to expand efforts to train physicians and medical professionals using VR surgical simulation experiences is important, because leadership faces significant challenges today related to procedural and surgical training in health care. In addition to the obvious challenge of the pandemic, Barad says there are additional dynamics at play that are exacerbating the situation. For example, a main reason is that there is simply too much to learn.
“Accelerating science and technology is increasingly expanding the library of procedures health care professionals are expected to perform on demand,” Barad said. “I always tell the story how one day I was asked to operate on a gorilla with very little notice. While that is a bit of an extreme case, we as health care providers deal with gorilla-like situations very frequently; procedures we have never done before or only perform rarely.”
Further, he adds that the second part of the problem is that surgery has become significantly more complex. Barad says that fewer technologies like robotics, minimally invasive techniques and patient-specific implants tend to have much longer learning curves, sometimes up to 10 times longer (or 100 cases). Yet, he believes the way that they learn to do these newer techniques has not accommodated the lengthening learning curve.
“Finally, we lack a repeatable and objective way of assessing technical proficiency in health care. In my own career, the only time I’ve really been ‘objectively’ assessed I was asked to play the board game “Operation” and remove some plastic pieces without buzzing,” Barad said. “To some extent, we are flying a little blind, and we only really become aware of gaps after complications have already occurred.”
This is where OSSO VR comes into play. The company’s technology in particular has been proved to improve surgical proficiency by 200% to 300%, and Barad says that some early data from the OR shows the company has been able to cut operating room time in half in certain situations. However, he noted that the biggest challenge is regarding access to technology.
“You can have the best simulation in the world, but if HCPs can’t use it, it doesn’t provide any value. This is why modern VR is so powerful, because it is highly portable and accessible, and can be used anytime and anywhere,” Barad said. “At Osso VR, our vision is that with the continuing adoption of VR and scalability of our platform, that we will reach over 30 million HCPs around the world who can train on anything from IV placement to complex robotic surgery.”
Osso VR Efforts to Meet Virtual Learning Demand
Using high visual fidelity to ensure that every aspect of surgery — from anatomical detail to the OR environment — enhances the training experience, Osso VR specializes in hyper-realistic, haptic-enhanced, hands-on interactivity and design. Made up of practicing clinicians, professional VR developers and medtech industry veterans, the company provides on-demand, educational experiences that are effective, repeatable, and measurable to help surgeons reach proficiency with emerging surgical techniques and technologies.
“Osso VR plans to use its new funding to continue to expand its team, invest more in its product, and collect clinical data to understand impact on patient outcomes. This includes growth to 150-200 employees by the end of year, adding artists and medical illustrators to scale content creation, and adding engineers and product specialists to enable us to address additional specialties,” Barad said. “The platform will evolve to have even more sophistication both to the realism of the training experiences and sophistication of our assessment, like incorporating additional 3D-motion analysis.”
This technology became increasingly important and in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, as academic facilities and institutions scrambled to meet heightened virtual training needs. Working alongside industry leaders like Johnson & Johnson, Stryker, and Smith & Nephew, the company was able to expand into additional specialties, such as orthopedics, endoscopy and interventional procedures. To meet the increased demand, Osso VR now offers more than 120 modules and 10 specialties in the platform’s surgical training library.
“Part of what Osso VR’s core technology is, is the ability to scale up high-fidelity procedural training content creation,” Barad said. “This is what has enabled us to produce such a large content library so quickly, and continued investments and focus on this area is what it will take to simulate every possible procedure you could perform, which is our ultimate goal.”
According to Osso VR, the company’s platform has proved to significantly affect surgical performance. For example, in two recent randomized peer-reviewed studies, surgeons training with Osso VR showed between a 230% to 306% improvement in overall surgical performance, as compared to traditional training. More specifically, the study showed that about 25% of traditionally trained residents could get through a procedure without meaningful supervision. Yet, when Osso VR for training assessment was instituted, that figure went up to 78%. This is where the 306% improvement in the ability to perform procedures without supervision stems from.
These numbers clearly indicate that as technology advances and allows for more immersive learning experiences, facilitators are able to address broad issues associated with traditional health care learning. With nearly 30,000 training sessions completed on the platform, working out to an average of 22,000 minutes of training a month, the potential to alleviate the surgical simulation learner experience while simultaneously working to increase patient safety is limitless.
More About Osso VR
Barad set out on a mission to change the way surgical training is executed. As a board-eligible orthopedic surgeon with a bioengineering degree from UC Berkeley and an MD from UCLA, Barad thoroughly understood the training and education management solution needs of the surgical community.
When a personal family health incident introduced Barad to the world of health care, he decided to find a way to combine his passions and use his technology background to solve clinical training problems. During his residency, he identified the pressing medical challenges involving how the medical and educational communities train their surgeons.
With a strong interest in gaming and a firsthand understanding of the challenges facing residents and experienced physicians, Barad’s mission was to improve patient safety and democratize access to modern surgical techniques. His desire was also to improve patient outcomes, increase the adoption of higher-value medical technologies and increase access to surgical education around the globe. To achieve this, he created a way for OSSO VR to use virtual reality in medicine to provide the platform, content and tools to bridge the surgical training gap.
To build the leading VR surgical training platform, OSSO VR assembled a team of clinical, medical device and simtech experts from leading institutions such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Medtronic, Microsoft, Zynga and Electronic Arts.
Today, Osso VR is available in more than 20 countries and is used by many of the world’s top orthopedic hospitals and device companies. The platform is available in multiple languages including English, Japanese, Spanish, German and French. Furthermore, more than 20 global hospital residency programs also employ Osso VR, including Brown University, Hospital for Special Surgery, Johns Hopkins University and Rush University. OSSO VR’s content has even been validated in a pilot study which showed that OSSO VR-trained users performed surgery nearly twice as well as those trained via traditional means, according to the company.
“I could not be more excited about the future of Osso VR. We have now seen that Osso’s technology can have a disproportionately positive impact on surgical performance,” Barad said. “My dream is that every patient in the world can more easily access whatever procedure they need, and have the peace of mind knowing they are going to get the very best care, independent of where and with whom they are receiving it.”
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.