The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts that by 2032, the U.S. will see a shortage of approximately 122,000 physicians. And with the burnout in medical professionals as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, that estimate could already be too low.
Consequently, medtech has come increasingly to the forefront as we consider the future of medicine. From providing new mechanisms and platforms for medical professionals to fulfill continuing education requirements, to enabling them to perform safer, faster, and less invasive surgeries, medtech innovations are changing the face of medicine almost beyond recognition.
Remote continuing education for medical professionals
One of these innovations is a virtual reality platform that’s helping to accelerate the adoption of minimally invasive spine surgery techniques.
Back in August of 2020, National Bioskills Laboratories (NBL) unveiled its medical-grade remote physician training platform. NBL is a leading provider of surgical training facilities, and created the platform in direct response to the travel restrictions placed upon surgeons by Covid-19.
The platform is capable of streaming multiple video outputs from surgical cameras and medical equipment (C-arms or ultrasound machines) simultaneously, using cloud-based software and proprietary hardware from enterprise software company, CrowdOptic. This allows physicians all over the world to gain training in some of the latest surgical techniques and equipment, greatly expanding access to these cutting-edge technologies.
And remote training is becoming popular among other specialties, too. The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery, for example, recently pioneered the very first all-virtual certification course for certain non-surgical aesthetic procedures.
VR enters the medical field
Also this year, another company successfully provided the means for surgical training to take place through a 3D VR training platform.
Back in October, St. Mary’s Medical Center & the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital hosted the first case study of Immertec Medoptic technology, announcing that staff orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. John Asghar became the first surgeon in the world to use Immertec’s Medoptic technology during a live surgery for surgical training. Dr. Asghar has performed surgeries and aided communities in Asia, South America, and the Middle East, and is a founding member of the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.
Immertec, an award-winning health tech company out of Tampa, Florida, describes Medoptic as the “first fully immersive 3D teleconferencing VR platform for surgical training, allowing surgeons to virtually scrub into a live procedure from their home or office through a VR headset.” Talk about virtual learning 2.0.
But what makes Medoptic’s technology just as appealing as CrowdOptic’s technology and hardware?
It’s the 3D teleconferencing technology used in tandem with VR headsets, which allows for delivery of live-4K video with audio conferencing capabilities. Immertec’s CEO, Erik Maltais, told the Tampa Bay Times that the platform captures and encodes multiple feeds, including immersive stereoscopic renderings, to stream footage in less than 500 milliseconds. By using the VR headset, surgeons can participate in real-world, real-time collaboration, as if physically present.
Medtech is only going to grow in importance as we face the challenges of the future, from expanding access to medical care around the globe, to preparing for the next pandemic. VR and remote learning are one critical piece of unlocking that puzzle.