By allowing surgeons to remotely train in real-time, US-based Immertec is dissolving the physical barriers that restrict the adoption of modern medical devices and procedures, as chief executive officer and co-founder Erik Maltais explains
VRWT: What does Immertec do?
Erik Maltais: Immertec enables surgeons to observe, communicate and collaborate in real-time through VR.
Using Immertec’s virtual surgical training platform Medoptic, surgeons virtually scrub into an operating room with a VR headset from the comfort of their offices and homes, to consider adopting innovative procedures and devices.
VRWT: How does Medoptic work?
Erik Maltais: Medoptic enables surgeons to gain access to fully immersive, real-time surgical training from experts in their fields.
The traditional way of surgical training involves surgeons observing a surgical operation from a crowded operating room in order to gain the necessary confidence to conduct the procedure themselves.
With Medoptic, surgeons save time by eliminating the need to physically travel to an operating room. They remote into an operating room to train, without the burdens of travel or unnecessary risk of infection.
The process is as follows: physicians sign up on our app to learn innovative procedures, they schedule training, and once approved, we mail them headsets. At the time of the surgery, they receive a secure code to log into the live operating room, via their headset.
VRWT: How useful, in particular, is the live-streaming aspect of your solution?
Erik Maltais: Converging evidence demonstrates that the golden standard of training is mentorship from an expert to an apprentice.
Surgeons learn surgical skills through one-on-one exposure and mentorship. They attend in-person training with an expert in order for them to consider adopting an innovative procedure or device.
Training with expert mentors helps them reach proficiency faster, make fewer errors, and perform more consistently.
Using Medoptic, they train in the same way they know and trust. Using a VR headset, they virtually scrub into an operating room, observe a live surgery and can ask the expert surgeon specific questions, building the necessary confidence to perform the surgery later in their own private practice.
VRWT: What is it about VR that is so suited to training?
Erik Maltais: VR allows trainees to engage in real observational training by delivering an experience similar to being physical present in the learning environment.
Trainees can interact with other people and always have the best vantage position.
VR also blocks outside interference, allowing trainees to focus solely and be completely engaged by the training. Ultimately, people learn better and faster in a virtual environment.
VRWT: How have surgeons and organisations that you work with reacted so far?
Erik Maltais: Surgeons hail our platform as a game-changer for the future of medical and surgical education. They find it extremely beneficial and easy to use.
With the current pandemic, our technology accelerated from ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ for medical device manufacturers.
We are actively signing contracts with medical device manufacturers, and a number of simulations and bioskills labs.