op-ed for STAT, Justin Barad, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and the founder and CEO of virtual reality surgical training platform Osso VR, described the abilities of VR and augmented reality to better train surgeons to use the latest OR gadgets, thus leading to improved patient outcomes.

In contrast to traditional simulators, which can be expensive and have limited capabilities, VR simulations are significantly more accessible: “[VR’s] portability and ease of use open the door for practicing skills and techniques anytime, anywhere,” Dr. Barad wrote. AR goes a step further, providing “X-ray vision” in real-world scenarios and allowing experts to offer guidance in real-time while watching a procedure through a surgeon’s AR headset-enhanced eyes.

“It is essential that we take swift action to improve training, assessment and coordination of surgical teams,” Dr. Barad concluded, noting how some recent medical technologies with great potential have been deemed failures only because clinicians were not properly equipped to use them.

“It is up to innovators to collaborate with patients, institutions, industry, professional organizations, and regulatory bodies to recognize the challenges around the rapid introduction of valuable yet complex new technologies,” he wrote. “Improving training and communication with virtual reality, augmented reality and mobile apps can help ensure safer surgery and allow innovations to reach their full potential in the healthcare system.”

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