A virtual reality system for training surgeons is gaining traction with major medical device companies looking to mitigate misuse and liability concerns.

Founded just a year and a half ago, Osso VR is already being used in Europe, the United States, and Canada, and the company expects nearly 60 medical institutions will adopt the system by the end of 2018 for physician training.

“Residency programs are aware that their training is no longer effective,” says Justin Barad, MD, CEO and co-founder of the company. But although there is a lot of interest in adoption on the clinical side, Dr. Barad says it is the device companies that are driving adoption as well.

“Device companies have had enough of people misusing their products to the point where they are facing liability issues that have led to lawsuits and product recalls,” he says. Up to now, he says, device companies have lacked insight into how ready a surgeon is to use their products, which is then a reflection on the device company.

As the healthcare industry shifts to an outcomes-oriented paradigm, he says that mitigating this liability is becoming even more of a critical issue. Beyond simply training people to use their devices, device companies, he says, want to know how skilled the people using their devices are.

With the VR system, companies gain insight into how much additional training a surgeon or other user may need in order to use the device proficiently.

“You’re now seeing device companies interested in this data set,” which, he says, has only been available within the past few years. VR training collects this data, and device companies can start gating access to their products,” he says.

Dr. Barad also points to the inefficiency of the current system used for training physicians. “You’re flown in for courses and you get a few hours to practice on a cadaver. And then you’re expected to do the procedure on a patient. But it’s not the next day. Typically, a device has to go through a value analysis process, and then you have to find the right patient.”

There is normally a 4–6 month gap between attending a course and then using a device on a patient. “Data shows you have to do a procedure 75–100 times before you can do it proficiently,” he says. Such a system exposes patients to risk, so that’s not so good for outcomes. Moreover, he says, what if they use the device incorrectly? “You as the device company are on the hook,” he says.

“If that happens on a large enough scale, a product can be recalled or you can be sued,” he says. But with VR training, you have insight into the technical proficiency of the surgeons with your device. VR allows you to actually see at a granular level the technical abilities of the users.

Is VR the future of medical product training? It seems like a great alternative to traditional training. VR is more efficient in terms of knowledge and skill transfer, and it can be used as an assessment tool after training. It gives you a high-quality cohort of doctors who know how to use your device properly and proficiently.

Sherrie Trigg

Editor and Director of Medical Content

To learn more about the technology, go to www.ossovr.com.