Vancouver-based tech firm develops VR feature for remote surgeon training

Apr 6 2020, 1:55 pm

Over the last few weeks, many industries and sectors have been forced to halt operations as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Physical distancing practices may stay in place for weeks, or even months from now, but education must go on. Vancouver-based company Precision OS Technology is stepping in to help surgical residents continue their training remotely with the launch of its new collaborative VR multiplayer.

The new feature enhances the Precision OS platform by giving users in multiple locations access to the same module so they can learn in the same virtual operating room.

Dr. Danny Goel, CEO of Precision OS, told Daily Hive that as long as each resident student has an Oculus Quest headset and good WiFi connection, they have complete access to all Precision platforms — from anywhere in the world.

“The multiplayer users will receive an avatar along with their colleagues while performing surgery, in order to permit simultaneous access to the same virtual operating room,” explains Goel.

According to the Precision OS website, surgery residents are getting less hands-on experience than ever, and it’s affecting their confidence and autonomy. “A significant percentage don’t feel ready to independently perform core procedures upon residency completion.”

Goel envisions surgeons remotely collaborating with other surgeons, trainees, and key operating room personnel including device reps through the new VR multiplayer. The feature is based around an educational concept that involves exploring ideas and decision-making with the question “why?” in mind.

“Our technology provides medical-grade VR,” says Goel. “It is teaching residents several important concepts. Surgery is more than a technical skill. Furthermore, skill advancement and progression towards expertise does require failure.”

The Precision OS platform and multiplayer allows students to accomplish these goals through an ultra-realistic simulation in a safe and risk-free environment.

Goel explains that Precision OS isn’t digitizing current models of learning, but attempting to enhance them.

“VR training is augmenting our current models of training while permitting productive failure,” he says. “The intention is to provide personalized data through a more advanced level of education.”

The new multiplayer technology will be available in Canada and internationally this May. However, Goel notes that the University of Connecticut (UCONN) currently has 25 resident students training using the Precision platform utilizing the Oculus Quest headset.

“We are struggling to balance the safety of all of our residents and patients with our obligation to continue to educate the surgeons we are graduating,” Dr. Lauren Geaney, program director at UCONN, said in a press release. “We are very excited to begin integrating this [Precision OS technology] into our curriculum.”

Other participating universities include the Mayo Clinic, The Pan Am Clinic, Queens University, and Sunnybrook Hospital, among several others.