There are few industries that aren’t made better with access to better technology. Technology allows for things to move faster, smoother and can exponentially increase production. Simulation and training is no exception to this rule. As technology increases, so do the opportunities to mimic real-life situations and gather data on these situations.
The latest technological advancement which is taking the world by storm is virtual and augmented reality (Virtual and augmented reality respectively). Simply wearing a headset can allow the user to be completely immersed in new and exciting environments. It was only a matter of time before VR technology was adopted into the medical simulation community.
The latest early adopter of virtual and augmented reality is the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
The midwest college recently broke ground on what will become the Davis Global Center, a facility which will focus on medical training simulations through the use of VR and AR technologies.
Some of the building’s highlights will include using holographic simulations, a quarantine simulation center and a 280 degree viewing screen, which will allow trainers to use VR without needing a headset.
The technology allows trainers and prospective medical professionals a way to experience a wider variety of medical emergency than with traditional simulation methods. Training dummies and computer simulations are limited in their scope, a mannequin designed to bleed will only bleed. However, VR and AR programs have a virtually endless supply of medical situations; as long as the issue can be programmed into the computer, the only limit is the trainer’s imagination.
The University of Nebraska isn’t unique either. Stanford, The Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals across the nation are incorporating some sort of VR system in their practices. The only thing stopping more medical centers from joining in seems to be cost.
Because it’s a new technology, VR and AR systems are expensive. They also present an integration problem. It’s easy for Nebraska to incorporate VR when they are building a simulation center from scratch, but already established medical centers are finding it difficult, and expensive, to integrate technology into their existing structures. It’s not that they’re against technology, they just simply can’t afford it.
But the good news is, like all technology, the means of creating and implementing it will improve over time and bring costs down. With such positive results, the trend of hospitals and medical centers adopting VR and AR will continue to rise.