Innosuisse has awarded a grant of CHF 12 million over the next four years to support the "PROFICIENCY" project for surgical simulation. The project initiates a paradigm shift in practical training in surgery : away from primary training in the operating room, towards standardized and proficiency-based surgical training curricula. Thanks to the latest technological advances in virtual and augmented reality, such as the ones offered by Geneva-based start-up ORamaVR, many surgical procedures can already be simulated with lifelike accuracy.
However, practical training still frequently occurs in the operating room. The disadvantage of this form of training became obvious during the Covid-19 pandemic, as surgical training was largely restricted or not possible at all in most hospitals during this time.
In a first decisive step, the PROFICIENCY project will focus on the development of a modular curriculum that is tailored to the requirements of surgical entities and placed on a digitally accessible learning platform. This standardized, evidence-based and performance-oriented training program will be taught using the latest didactic methods and empower surgeons to acquire skills through self-paced learning.
“With the PROFICIENCY project, we want to decisively advance simulator-based training in surgery,” explains Prof. Bruno Schmied, M.D., Chief of Surgery at the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen, Switzerland and who is in the lead of the project. “The innovative training program – similar to training pilots on flight simulators – will decisively improve surgical training in open and minimally invasive surgery and initiate the desired paradigm shift to proficiency-oriented and didactically high-quality simulator-supported training.”
A flagship innovation project to accelerate data-driven surgical training
In a second major step, the project will develop innovative training tools for simulating different surgical situations, ranging from online virtual reality simulation, augmented box trainers, and high-end simulators, to augmented-reality-enabled open surgery and immersive remote operation room participation. These simulation tools will be connected to the learning platform.
“This Swiss flagship innovation project brings together unique computational medical XR expertise, in order to accelerate data-driven surgical training and proficiency-based performance for medical personnel,” said Dr. George Papagiannakis, Co-Founder and CEO/CTO of ORamaVR.
In addition to ORamaVR, the Cantonal Hospital of St.Gallen, the University Hospital of Lausanne, the University of Zurich with the Balgrist University Clinic, the ETH Zurich and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) as well as the companies VirtaMed AG, Microsoft Switzerland GmbH, and Atracsys LLC are also partners on the project.