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VR Being Utilised by Healthcare Professionals for Coronavirus Treatment Training

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a drastically negative impact on the global healthcare industry with many hospitals facing heavy staff shortages. Treating those affected by the COVID-19 virus has become quite a challenge due to the lack of experienced infectious diseases professionals.

Many hospitals across the globe are now turning to virtual reality (VR) technology for training doctors and nurses. This includes professionals and retired medical practitioners who are being subjected to VR simulations.

The Cedars-Sinai hospital, a Los Angeles facility, now has upwards of three hundred doctors who have utilised VR technology to learn how to evaluate the symptoms of Coronavirus and give CPR to the individuals whilst in protective gear.

Russell Metcalfe-Smith, the Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills director at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said that the VR experience is similar to being in the same room as the patient. The hospital has been offering training to staff members for COVID-19. According to Metcalfe-Smith, the virtual reality simulation offers different outcomes depending on the decisions a user makes during the experience. He said that the doctors being subjected to the virtual reality environment gave them a headstart regarding the kind of treatment they needed to learn about.

This simulation puts doctors and nurses into the eyes of COVID-19 patients. Image source: cnn

Across the US, doctors and nurses at healthcare facilities are now partaking in specific training programmes for combatting the Coronavirus. The fundamentals of training include how to use protective equipment and ventilators generally utilised by critical-care professionals. They are also getting familiar with the fresh guidelines including CPR and life support and handling diagnosis.

Yet, conventional training is not as effective due to the restrictions of available resources and time. This has raised the need for technologies like virtual reality to address all the existing training challenges. The technology itself is not new in the medical sector, as it has been used by surgeons, dentists and other professionals.

Metcalfe-Smith stated that VR technology was found to be useful by the healthcare facility, as it is in line with a social distancing point of view. He emphasised that large groups of people could not be put together in a place and technology was the obvious solution. According to Metcalfe-Smith, this technology was successful in offering the same level of training effectiveness.

Virti, a startup company, is offering the software being utilised by the hospital. It gives comprehensive feedback and several useful metrics to evaluate the performance of medical professionals. The hospital began utilising the programme in January but it was spread to more professionals following growth of the Coronavirus outbreak in March.

Dr Alex Young, the founder of Virti, explained that the objective was to offer activities that echo the real-world scenario. Elaborating further, he said that one of the simulations puts users into an isolation room with professionals coming in. This gives them an idea about what the patient goes through. They also get an idea about how to serve patients whilst in protective gear. Virti has signed up thousands of users for its VR system recently.

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