To many people, the world of virtual gaming conjures images of geeky teens and twenty-somethings glued to computer screen for hours on end engaged in endless, seemingly mindless battles with fellow gamers through online games sites full of flashing images and clashing sounds.
It is that world that helped gaming guru turned doctor and entrepreneur Dr. Justin Barad launch a virtual reality surgical training company that hopes to bridge the widening gap in training tomorrow’s doctors to safely learn complex surgical procedures.
Barad is co-founder and CEO of Osso VR, which has designed a sophisticated virtual reality platform that enables surgical professionals, and well as sales teams and other personnel, to learn how to use complex medical devices in difficult surgical procedures, through haptic-enhanced interactions in an immersive training environment.
During an interview with MDT at the recent BIOMEDdevice show in Boston, Dr. Barad noted that the increasing demands placed on physicians, coupled with the growing complexity of many medical procedures, makes it difficult to get sufficient training in a surgical procedure before having to do it for real.
“It could take 4 to 6 months between the time one learns a procedure and the time the doctor gets to use the procedure on a patient,” Dr. Barad said. “You really need to practice on upwards of 100 patients in order to become proficient.” He added that the complexity of today’s surgical procedures make it difficult to get up to speed within a few days.
The virtual reality platform developed by Osso VR (see video below) provides step-by-step instructions to guide doctors through performing surgical procedures. The platform incorporates analytic dashboards that enable both trainees and administrators to receive feedback regarding their run-throughs, plus tailored guidance to help them improve their proficiency.
Dr. Barad noted that the virtual training brings the course to the medical service provider, eliminating the cost and time of sending medical personnel to an offsite training location. And, because the virtual reality platform can readily be updated and customized, training on new technologies is more easily accomplished than with onsite training technologies.
The backgrounds of Osso VR’s team lent themselves readily to marrying the worlds of virtual reality and medicine. Dr. Barad originally started his career as a game developer, then pursued medical training at Harvard and UCLA. Osso VR’s co-founder, Chief Technology Officer Matt Newport, spent 15 years in professional game development. The Chair of Osso VR’s scientific advisory board is Dr. Thomas Krummel, chair emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine and co-director of Stanford Biodesign.
Osso VR is working with major device manufacturers to develop training platforms for an increasing number of medical systems, with the help of proceeds from recent fundraising efforts.