Success stories

Modern training in surgery: How to realistically simulate surgery

Whether it involves orthopaedics, urology or gynaecology, endoscopic procedures require a surgeon’s knowledge and experience. The necessary skills can be acquired both risk-free and realistically using simulators from Virtamed. The Swiss company is a global leader in the virtual training of minimally invasive operations.

Simulator

When a startup like VirtaMed AG employs 100 people twelve years after being founded in Switzerland and, with over 1000 simulation devices, has achieved an export share of 95 percent, it is clear that the company has done a great deal correctly. And is also deserving of a nomination for the Export Award 2019.

“VirtaMed is a global leader in the field of high-quality virtual simulations,” says Phil Norris, Head of Marketing and Analytics at the Schlieren-based company. This means that “surgical procedures can be trained for in a risk-free environment.” An idea by some ETH graduates to change the training for modern medicine formed the basis for the development of their products: “Just as pilots learn their trade in flight simulators, we help doctors gain experience before they treat their patients.” Arthroscopies on the knee, ankle, hip or shoulder can be practiced as well as urological or gynecological procedures. In the meantime, almost 1000 VirtaMed simulators are being used in 50 countries to inexpensively practice endoscopic skills; at training hospitals and medical training centres as well as at manufacturers of medical technology products.

“The effectiveness of our simulators as learning tools is proven by numerous studies, and this in comparison to traditional methods as well as in comparison with competitors,” Phil Norris explains.

From America to Japan

In recent years, VirtaMed has built up a worldwide network of sales partners. The largest market is the USA with a 50 percent share of sales. This is thanks to an efficient distributor and the strategic approach of the subsidiary there. “We expanded our sales team with after-sales support staff to be able to respond quickly and locally to our customers' needs,” says Norris. On the back of its success in North America, VirtaMed also established a sales network in China and opened a subsidiary in Shanghai last year. “Our presence in France has also grown steadily since we entered the market in 2012,” says the marketing manager, “as has our presence in Germany, where VirtaMed is working successfully with the leading manufacturer of endoscopic devices.”

VirtaMed is currently preparing for market entry in Japan with the support of Switzerland Global Enterprise. There is still great potential for growth all over the world, says Phil Norris: “While simulation is establishing itself as a training method, VirtaMed will continue to develop products and services that are scalable to any market. And which are supported by local after-sales teams who are close customers and react quickly to their requests.”

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