Virtual Reality for surgery training
Current VR technology has taken giant strides to enhance the skills of surgery trainees, boost the prestige of their medical schools, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
Virtual ERs teach the real deal
Until recently, medical professionals training for surgery had one option: first train with cadavers and then observe and assist experienced surgeons in the operating room. However, specializing in any surgical procedure requires extensive repetition, which demands a lot of time, including for rare medical situations, and that means time-consuming training might never even be relevant.
Lack of exposure and practice explains why 30 percent of academically accredited surgeons cannot operate independently, despite surgical residencies lasting for a mandatory minimum of five years following medical school.
These limitations, however, are changing; today’s surgeons-in-training aren’t limited to traditional learning techniques as their predecessors once were. With the technological leaps in virtual reality software development, medical students nowadays can participate in immersive and interactive VR simulations that help them understand what it feels like to operate on a patient before they even set foot inside an operating room or ER. VR also helps already accredited surgeons train new procedures on 3D models and master them in a fraction of the time required by regular practices.
A quick look at an industry that learns fast
Medical schools have been closely watching the impact of virtual reality in surgical training, with consistently positive results. In one study by UCLA, medical students trained with VR simulations were able to complete a common orthopedic procedure (tibial shaft fracture intramedullary nailing — in common parlance, putting a rod or nail in the center of the tibia in the case of a break) 20 percent faster and 38 percent more accurately than traditionally trained students.
Another study, focused on operative planning using 3D virtual anatomical models, found that kidney tumor patients whose nephrectomy surgeries were planned with VR had reduced operative times, blood loss, and length of hospital stay.
Investment-wise, VR’s healthcare market cap has grown across the board (~35 percent YoY), and the expectations around virtual reality in surgical training have followed suit. Leading surgical virtual reality companies, like Osso VR (“operate at a higher level”), have raised hundreds of millions in total funding due to the increasing perception, corroborated by evidence, that VR use in surgical training is a cost-effective way to yield better medical results.
Furthermore, after Apple’s unveiling of its Vision Pro premium headset in May 2023, the VR industry became primed to receive still more investment.
A modern improvement that builds upon tradition
Virtual reality in surgery training provides students with immersive experiences that reduce the risk of injury for their patients — and lack nothing compared to traditional learning experiences.
Despite their simulated nature, VR operating rooms go the extra mile to ensure that what students practice corresponds with the real-life situations they’ll encounter throughout their careers: Top-notch interactive VR applications, for instance, relay haptic feedback to practitioners to make them feel resistance, within the simulation, in the same areas that they would in an actual human body.
VR technology also enables a practice that not long ago would have been nearly impossible to envision: Surgeons operating from their homes. In cases where traveling is prohibitive for either party, such as during COVID or in war-torn countries, surgeons and medical students don’t have quick and safe access to their patients. VR then acts as a bridge to remote areas, democratizing healthcare access and improving both the surgeon’s skill and the patient’s quality of life.
But surgeons, students, and patients aren’t the only stakeholders who benefit from virtual reality in surgical training. VR applications also gather detailed analytics to help pinpoint trends in learning performance, so faculties and other institutions know which procedures or steps are most challenging and can offer better educational support.
- Custom virtual training sessions for any type of procedure
- Risk-free learning environment allows for low-stakes training to build confidence
- High-quality and immersive simulations are also ideal for active surgeons to practice new techniques
- Student groups can collaborate on a single procedure in virtual operating rooms
- Guided instructions and real-time assessments help measure the students’ proficiency
- 3D teleconferencing enables surgeons to broadcast live procedures and provide guidance on the fly
Remote learning possibilities
- Students can visualize complex operations from anywhere around the globe
- Democratization of medical learning for non-urban, low-resource areas
- Hands-on operating room experiences even when in-person training isn’t possible
VR brings unique benefits to the operation table
Virtual reality technologies complement existing teaching methods and, in some cases, enable modes of learning that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. VR’s safety, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness in training new surgeons — or updating experienced ones — set the stage for surefire returns on investment for any medical institution that wishes to stay ahead of modern surgical education techniques.
Realistic surgical simulations
VR provides highly realistic, immersive virtual environments for surgeons to practice in virtual surgical theaters that accurately mimic real life. That includes hyper-realistic patient anatomies, operating room equipment, and surgical techniques — all the way down to faithfully reproducing pulse beeps, machine hums, and oozing fluids.
Virtual reality takes the burden of mistakes off the shoulders of upcoming surgeons, letting them practice at will in safe virtual spaces (sometimes to the tune of a 50 percent reduction in surgical errors). Trainees in VR are free to experiment with different approaches, techniques, and strategies to learn from their errors.
The upfront cost of VR technology might look intimidating (usually between $25,000 and $250,000 with headsets for a well-rounded app), but it’s worth the investment in the long term. Many physical resources in traditional surgical training, such as medical cadavers and operating tools, are single-use or suffer from supply bottlenecks, an issue that’s entirely sidestepped in virtual reality with its reusable, scalable, and easily shareable alternatives.
Procedural variety and complexity
Certain conditions, like cases of conjoined twins, are far too rare and may demand decades from doctors to attain surgical mastery via traditional training. VR lets surgeons experience various scenarios and build a comprehensive skill set regardless of how frequently they encounter those cases in real life.
Remote and collaborative learning
Through VR surgery apps like Medicalholodeck’s TeamXR, surgeons-in-training can connect with colleagues and mentors across the globe to receive real-time guidance and feedback. Additionally, VR enables virtual team-based surgical procedures, greatly enhancing knowledge exchange and collaboration across institutions.
Objective performance measurement
Virtual reality solutions can provide quantitative feedback on a trainee’s performance by tracking accuracy and analyzing data parameters such as operating speed, movement precision, and overall efficiency. This allows surgeons to evaluate their skills better and identify areas of improvement through personalized immersive training plans.
Surgical training VR apps, step by step
Great VR healthcare app developers must be fully prepared to provide comprehensive assistance throughout the entire virtual reality app development journey. Starting from the initial planning phase to QA testing and refinement, your development partner’s healthcare and VR engineers must prioritize constant communication, engaging with every stakeholder to deliver a solution that empowers the confidence of surgeons — and thus fuel the effectiveness of your entire organization.
At Vention, our professionals follow a tried-and-tested outline that ensures the solution’s quality while still leaving space for future improvement and scaling. These are our primary steps to developing a world-class VR surgery app:
Through watchful analysis, consultants can identify your most critical obstacles and determine the optimal utilization of virtual reality technologies in your unique medical setting, providing a tailored solution that benefits your entire organization, including students, doctors, and patients.
Architecture and design
At this point, teams specialize in designing robust architecture that’s also easy to scale, maintain, and update, enhancing the overall user experience.
Virtual reality app development
Carefully selected VR specialists can significantly enhance medical efficiency by leveraging the cutting-edge capabilities of virtual reality simulations within the healthcare sector.
Third-party software integration
Engineers collaborate closely with trusted third-party providers and partners to ensure seamless integration of every component. This guarantees you an immersive, meticulously customized VR medical product with flawless integrations.
A highly skilled QA team employs a combination of proven manual and automated testing techniques to uncover any vulnerabilities in your system meticulously. This rigorous approach ensures your end-user immersive training experience remains intuitive and functional across various devices and systems.
Even after the release of your app, your chosen provider should be committed to pushing your KPIs by leveraging app usage data and user feedback. This allows your solution to be continuously updated, ensuring that it consistently surpasses expectations.
Need help planning the details of your VR app?
Our experts are available to support you with planning your solution, building it, and then fine-tuning and scaling it post-launch.
VR’s technology stack
Regardless of the type of immersive virtual reality product you require, those VR technologies should let you develop it swiftly, allowing you to enter the market without quality compromises.
3D modeling and animation
Outstanding success stories of virtual reality in surgery training
VR surgical training platforms are on the path to becoming indispensable in the grade of any modern medical university — and they know it. Successful platforms commonly partner with traditional learning institutions to improve their products and understand the detailed needs of students looking for immersive virtual training sessions. Some key players include:
Our core competencies for virtual reality in surgical training app development services
A well-crafted VR surgical training app requires development companies to excel at both healthcare apps and virtual reality apps — suffice to say, that’s not a task anyone can undertake. Fortunately, you can count on experienced engineers with a proven track record to do the job.
We develop our VR healthcare apps with a keen focus on:
Our experts can assist your project with advisory and consulting on technical aspects and help clarify which project requirements your VR surgical training app will need.
- Business analysis and research
- System requirements specifications
- Tech stack selection
- Assistance in choosing the best-fit VR equipment
Full-cycle VR surgical training app development
We can augment your existing development team with our specialists or build one from scratch to engage your project. That includes tweaking an existing app or software to feature a VR component.
- Architecture design
- UX/UI design
- 3D modeling
- Interactive content development
- Custom software and hardware integrations
- Continuous support
We understand the importance of compliance
When it comes to VR surgical training apps that involve the storage, transmission, or processing of protected health information (PHI), experienced engineers must be well-versed in adhering to HIPAA and GDPR privacy regulations.
Additionally, for any healthcare app, whether VR or any other industry, we make sure to implement robust security measures to safeguard user data, authentication credentials, data transmission, and network infrastructure.
Why build your virtual reality app with Vention
Top-tier VR development company
- Dedicated VR department
- Full-cycle software development teams sync across time zones
- 70% of our app developers are senior-level and team leads
- CVs within 48 hours
- 2 weeks from contact to kickoff
- Zero operational overhead
A proven track record
- 500+ startups and digital enterprises served to date
- Dialogue, Thirty Madison, and ClassPass are among our top startup clients
- 36 month average engagement