Beyond the Simulation Lab: Introducing and using Immersive Virtual Reality Simulation

Beyond the Simulation Lab: Introducing and using Immersive Virtual Reality Simulation
October 6, 2021
Beyond the Simulation Lab: Introducing and using Immersive Virtual Reality Simulation
5 mins

Many people associate immersive virtual reality (VR) simulations with high-tech industries, science fiction, and computer games. Fewer people associate this advanced, cutting-edge technology with education, particularly medical & healthcare education.

However, VR simulations are an excellent educational and learning tool in the medical field. VR simulations are computer-generated versions of real-world objects, such as chemical molecules, a skyscraper, biological decay, population growth, and any other object or process.

Scientists present VR simulations in text-driven, two-dimensional, and three-dimensional multimedia formats. Immersive VR Simulations can take a wide range of forms, from computer renderings of 3D geometric shapes to highly computerized and interactive laboratory experiments.

VR allows medical & healthcare students to explore, analyze, and manipulate computer-generated, 3D, and multimedia environments in real-time. Researchers have identified numerous advantages of immersive VR technology, especially in medical education. Today’s article will discuss some benefits and unique applications of VR simulations in the medical field. Read on!

Free Learning Environment

Immersive VR simulation technology is interactive, allowing medical students to practice in a free learning environment with eliminated risk or harm to patients. Medical students can now perform surgeries and undertake procedures and learn from their mistakes in a safe environment.

Institutions enable students to use virtual patients, developing vital skills they can apply in the real world. Immersive VR technology has revolutionized medical education, allowing students to improve their training and development skills.

Besides, it facilitates medical & healthcare institutions to optimize costs by reducing the number of physical resources. Because everything is virtual, educational institutions promote free learning environments while reducing the overall costs. So, this is beneficial since medical colleges and universities are under pressure with tighter budgets.

Moreover, immersive VR simulation tools provide students with hands-on experience. That way, they remain comfortable in performing surgeries and procedures in a controlled and safe environment. Even if a student makes a mistake, they can correct it in real-time without risks.

girls using a smartphone for learning

Improved Personalization

Medical students focus on different levels of clinical knowledge, and immersive VR simulation is an excellent tool that improves students’ objectivity. It can educate students at different levels, from novice to expert, allowing them to master a beginner activity and then proceed to advanced simulations to learn medical and surgical concepts.

Besides, there is no bias or prejudice during the learning process because each student uses a personalized VR simulation based on their skill level. Immersive simulations using VR technologies can improve critical thinking, psychomotor, and communication skills.

Similarly, VR simulations in medical or nursing education expose students to different scenarios they may not experience in clinical practice. The purpose is to align theory and practice, enabling students to practice cultural sensitivities through various systems, ethical principles, and applications.

Because virtual reality simulations are repeatable, they enable medical students to make mistakes in a safe and controlled environment. That way, students can learn through deliberate practice to enhance their learning and performance, leading to more accuracy in real-world doctor-patient scenarios, especially in the emergency department. Repeatability and personalization are the core elements of successful VR simulation.

Man looking at data analytics on two screens

Predictive Data Analytics

Predictive data analytics plays a crucial role in medical education and healthcare domains. For instance, collecting, analyzing, and organizing millions of electronic health records is impossible without machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI).

Likewise, health professionals and medical internees can use VR simulations to perform predictive data analytics to gain insights and create organized databased to streamline patient care. The primary goal of predictive data analytics via immersive simulations is to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.

Not only does VR technology equip students with tools to learn data-driven analysis, but it also let them learn how to make informed decisions within seconds, allowing them to predict and prevent the progression of health conditions.

In addition, medical institutions can use immersive tools and systems to create bespoke simulation curricula, allowing them to generate large volumes of performance data. Remember, this data ensures utilization, enables students’ engagement and provides instructors with insights to identify struggling learners so that they can benefit from further simulation-based medical training.

Moreover, institutions and instructors can use immersive systems to train students in analyzing the patient’s data, including health records, medical history, and vital signs. These technologies can also support students in complex procedures, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, trans-venous lead extraction, and other procedures.

Bear in mind that medical imaging is all about big data and analytical tools. For instance, there is critical data in every x-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc. However, putting the data together for learning is a massive undertaking. VR simulations combined with augmented reality allow doctors and surgeons to improve accuracy in medical imaging.

Better Visualization Solutions

Implementing immersive VR simulations in medical & healthcare studies is directly proportional to enhanced visualization, allowing students to take learning to the next level. Students can practice surgical techniques, target specific patient outcomes, and visualize data before entering the operating room.

For example, immersive VR simulations enable students to view medical imaging or scans layered on top of each other, leading to detailed insights. So, learners can use these insights to perform better diagnosis and treatment.

Moreover, visualization through immersive VR simulations enables students to practice different techniques, undo errors or mistakes, and rewind simulations using three-dimensional models. That way, students better understand surgical procedures.

Furthermore, students understand patterns, trends, and outliers within their data, leading to improvements, efficiencies, and increased opportunities for optimal patient care. All this results in better and informed decision-making, especially when dealing with severe health conditions.

Final Words

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented level of disruption to the field of medical education, particularly in clinical, anatomical, and surgical training. These fields, along with others, require hands-on experience.

Virtual reality has revolutionized medical education because it can mimic various healthcare settings and promote personalized and inter-professional education. There are unlimited possibilities for medical institutions, researchers, scientists, and students to practice on tailored designs.

Immersive VR simulations develop medical & healthcare students’ confidence and allow them to learn crucial concepts at their own pace. So, this increases flexibility, personalization, objectivity, leading to improved learning experiences.