A CHF 12 Million Innosuisse Grant for a VR Surgical Training Method
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The Swiss Federal Agency for Innovation Promotion (Innosuisse) is supporting the “PROFICIENCY” project, in which the Geneva-based startup ORamaVR S.A. is a full partner, with a total of CHF 12 million over the next four years.
The project initiates a paradigm shift in practical training in surgery: Away from primary training in the operating room (OR) towards innovative, proficiency-oriented and simulator-supported, practical training. Thanks to the latest technological advances in virtual and augmented reality, many surgical procedures can already be simulated with lifelike accuracy. However, practical training still frequently occurs in the operating room. The disadvantage of this form of training became obvious during the Covid 19 pandemic: surgical training was largely restricted or not possible at all in most hospitals during this time.
The PROFICIENCY Project
“With the ‘PROFICIENCY’ project, we want to decisively advance simulator-based training in surgery,” explains Prof. Bruno Schmied, M.D., Chief of Surgery at the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen, Switzerland and who is in the lead of the project. “The innovative training program – analogous to the training of pilots on flight simulators – will decisively improve surgical training in open and minimally invasive surgery and initiate the desired paradigm shift to proficiency-oriented and didactically high-quality simulator-supported training.”
In a first decisive step, the project envisages the development of a modular curriculum that is tailored to the requirements of surgical societies and placed on a digitally accessible learning platform. This standardized, evidence-based and performance-oriented training program will be taught using the latest didactic methods and empower surgeons to acquire skills through self-paced learning.
VR and Simulators
In a second major step, the consortium will develop innovative training tools for simulating different surgical situations, ranging from online virtual reality simulation, augmented box trainers, and high-end simulators, to augmented-reality-enabled open surgery and immersive remote operation room participation. These simulation tools will be connected to the learning platform, which enables to build a training and learning program network, ready for the first training. The more trainees work on this network the better the entire training and learning program becomes and enables proficiency-based training.
“This Swiss flagship innovation project brings together unique computational medical XR expertise, in order to accelerate data-driven surgical training and proficiency-based performance for medical personnel,” said Dr. George Papagiannakis, cofounder-CEO/CTO of ORamaVR.
In addition to ORamaVR SA, the Cantonal Hospital of St.Gallen, the University Hospital of Lausanne, the University of Zurich with the Balgrist University Clinic, the ETH Zurich and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) as well as the companies VirtaMed AG, Microsoft Switzerland GmbH, and Atracsys LLC are also partners in this project.
ORamaVR, in Geneva, aims to accelerate the world’s transition to medical VR training by offering an IT software platform called MAGES™ SDK (Software Development Kit). This platform empowers institutions to massively create high-fidelity medical Virtual Reality Simulations eight times faster and for one-eighth of the cost relative to current industry standards. These state-of-the-art simulations can thus more quickly and more affordably be made available to hospitals, medical device companies, medical schools and medical training centers to train and assess their medical professionals. The outstanding benefits of this award-winning platform (MAGES SDK) have been demonstrated in 4 published clinical trials. Aside from drastically reducing development costs and delays, the platform has been proven to provide effective skills transfer from the virtual to the real operating room.
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