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Virtual reality: training medical students on infection control

simulation-based medical tool
Published on
09 April 2019

Grenoble Ecole de Management, University Grenoble Alpes, Imperial College London and Heidelberg University have partnered with the start-up Simango to deliver the first virtual reality training on infection control in operating rooms.

Virtual Reality has been increasingly adopted in the healthcare sector, as it provides medical professionals an efficient training technique to deal with complex problems and situations. Surgical site infection prevention is precisely one of those issues that requires more training. Surgical site infections are a serious and prevalent problem that is threatening the lives of millions of patients in both developing and rich countries and contributing to the growing costs in the healthcare sector.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimated that 799,185 new cases of surgical site infections and 16,049 related deaths occur every year in the European Union. Furthermore, as the World Health Organization has observed, in the United States, patients are spending more than 400 000 extra days in hospital at a cost of an additional US$ 10 billion per year. Many of these could be prevented by adequate infection control measures. Acquisition of this knowledge as soon as possible is essential. However, training in hygiene and infection control is difficult to organize due to the restricted nature of the operating room (OR).  The realm of the OR is complex for medical students, and they need to be prepared for a variety of challenges beforehand.

Grenoble Ecole de Management, University Grenoble Alpes, Imperial College London and Heidelberg University have partnered with a start-up company called Simango, specialized in the development of simulation-based educational tools. Their aim is to deliver a virtual reality training to educate medical students on infection control in the operating room. While it can be difficult to invite students into an actual operating room, virtual reality scenarios eliminate risk and immersive and original experience provided by virtual reality makes the lessons hygiene and infection control more attractive and above all more memorable.

As the project leader, Caroline Landelle from University Grenoble Alpes, explains: “Medical students can be confused when entering the operating room for the first time, resulting potentially in risky behavior. Todays’ medical students have grown up with novel technologies. They are eager to learn and open minded. Hygiene and Infection control, however, is often underrepresented in medical curricula. In medical practice it is of major importance for patient safety.”

Virtual reality represents an excellent technique to provide training in an area that is usually not accessible to medical students. It is also a tool that could be easily used by different universities and countries.

The aim of this project is to develop an efficient educational tool to teach medical students about the prevention of surgical site infection. The innovative training developed by this project consists of an amusing virtual reality operating room scenario. Virtual reality allows students to immerse themselves in the operating room environment and to identify risky situations. Rather than focusing the objectives on the errors, the amusing and memorable training positively orients students for potential successes.

Thanks to this program, medical students will improve their knowledge on hygiene and infection. They will be better prepared to adapt to the hygiene demands of the operating room and eventually this tool will improve compliance with those measures once the medical students become doctors.

This project is supported by EIT Health, and it will leverage the expertise of the partners involved to deliver a useful, innovative and sustainable solutions to the interested stakeholders in the medical field.

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