HIMSS 2018: A new era for training

HIMSS 2018: A new era for training

March 13, 2018

AiSolve US President Shauna Heller looks back at HIMSS 2018 and reflects on what it will take to herald in a new age of VR-assisted training.

Strolling through the rows of medical IT products and services at HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas, one thing is clear: healthcare requires a lot of computing power. Well, two things become clear: healthcare requires massive computing power and healthcare professionals really like popcorn. For real—every other booth had a popcorn machine and concierge to serve it to the 40,000+ attendees walking beside me, reviewing the latest and greatest in healthcare technology.

Healthcare is facing many challenges and plenty of questions: migrating legacy patient files to digital systems, keeping patient data secure and protected, caring for and managing a rapidly aging population while offering the best services at an affordable price. It’s easy to forget, walking through HIMSS, looking at software solutions to help manage and track the amount of pills an elderly patient takes, that in many areas of the world even basic healthcare is still unattainable. China and India in particular face the challenge of how to bring basic healthcare services to their billion-plus populations, how to teach—at scale–basic hygiene or how to provide mental and physical therapy for patients in emotional or physical pain.

Especially critical to us here at AiSolve is the question of how best to train and prepare doctors and medical professionals for a long and thriving career as a healthcare practitioner.

And it’s a critical issue. Based on an analysis of prior research, a Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. On the CDC’s official list, that would rank just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014, and in front of respiratory disease, which caused about 150,000 deaths. Medical mistakes that can lead to death range from surgical complications that go unrecognised to mix-ups with the doses or types of medication patients receive.

We train athletes and astronauts to perform at their optimum levels. We put pilots through hours of simulator time before they’re allowed near a plane.

Now, with VR, we can put doctors, nurses and residents through simulation training that’s immersive, affordable and infinitely repeatable, which equips them to be more capable and experienced healers.

At AiSolve, we are focused on providing scalable VR training and simulation applications for the medical community. The product we deliver these applications through is called VRSims. We used VRSims to create medical VR simulation for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in 2017. You can read more about that project here http://bit.ly/2sQCVYv and watch a video on the project here http://bit.ly/2GhYK6b.

In carrying out this project with CHLA, we more fully realised the impact VR can have on the healthcare industry and speak internationally on the subject. HIMSS 2017 in Barcelona was one audience, HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas another.

On the Thursday of HIMSS last week, in the Intelligent Health Pavilion, I had the honour of presenting how AiSolve is using artificial intelligence to create VR medical simulation training. I laid out a compelling case for how VR can help increase effectiveness in medical education and shared how we at AiSolve use simulation software to the performance of professionals in other fields.

At the conclusion of my talk, a question came in from an audience member who wanted to know why the healthcare industry is doing more simulation training now? Having a perspective from the VR world, I didn’t want to speculate, but I do feel that simulation and training has been expensive and ineffective in the past, which would not lead many to use it in hospitals or med schools. However, VR is now an affordable simulation option that is both effective and easily managed within a hospital environment.

The audience member pressed and suggested it was because the medical community does not feel they need additional training. He may have been right about that but a few days later reflecting back on the exchange I still can’t offer a comprehensive reason for why simulation training hasn’t been more widely embraced by the healthcare community. But I do know this: VR is at a stage now where it can offer a cheaper, more convenient and highly customisable way to practice and learn medical procedures.

This new generation of doctors and providers – who grew up playing video games and have come to expect a high level of engagement from their platforms – may be the perfect demographic to help usher in a new era of training. In the years to follow, when I walk through the aisles of healthcare IT products and services at HIMSS, I look forward to seeing more virtual reality–plus AiSolve’s VR simulation and training booth–amongst the offerings. And popcorn. Definitely more popcorn.



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