The NHS England diabetes team has partnered with Oxford Medical Simulation to train doctors using virtual reality. Doctors can now practice in virtual reality medical emergencies to improve care for patients with diabetes in the real world.
Combining clinical expertise from the NHS, volunteer patient input and virtual reality software, doctors can now put on virtual reality headsets and practice taking care of patients as often as they want, without risking lives.
The system is being piloted through Health Education England in a multicentre trial in the South of England, with development funded by Novo Nordisk. If supported by evidence from the pilot, there are plans for further roll-outs nationwide throughout 2019.
People with Type 1 diabetes have more chance of developing life-threatening complications when in a hospital than outside of it. For people with diabetes, extreme highs and lows in blood sugar can be fatal. These emergencies can be difficult for doctors and nurses to recognize but can be fatal if not treated quickly. High-quality training for frontline staff is vital to improve patient care in these situations.
“When I was in training we’d learn on the wards. It was called ‘see one, do one, teach one’”, commented Dr. Jack Pottle, an NHS clinical entrepreneur and co-founder of Oxford Medical Simulation. “I had never practiced managing a diabetic emergency until I had to do it in real life. You wouldn’t expect a pilot to fly a plane full of passengers without having practiced first. Why do we think that’s acceptable for doctors and nurses?”
Dr Partha Kar, NHS England clinical director of Diabetes said: “Embracing technology is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan and training doctors using virtual reality is another example of modernising the NHS to help improve care for patients with diabetes.”
Individuals who helped to develop this project included Dr Mayank Patel, Dr Ritwika Mallik and Neil Sweeney.