VR & surgical education — 2 Qs with Dr. Justin Barad

Written by Shayna Korol | December 19, 2018 | Print  |

Justin Barad, MD, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Osso VR, a surgical training technology company that recently launched its first pediatric orthopedic procedure module in partnership with the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America.

Dr. Barad recently spoke with Becker's Spine Review about pediatric orthopedic training and trends in orthopedic surgical education.

Question: Why is Osso VR expanding to the pediatric orthopedic training space?

Dr. Justin Barad: Pediatrics in general is often an overlooked area when it comes to innovation, as the market tend to be smaller. Part of Osso VR's mission is to democratize access to surgical education around the world. Expanding into the pediatric space fits perfectly within this framework as we are committed to improving patient outcomes through better education and assessment. Furthermore, the need for better global education within pediatric orthopedics is more pressing than ever. With the support of POSNA, we can take the same quality of training currently being used at systems like New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery and Nashville-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center and bring it to low- and middle-income countries, making a massive impact in these areas. 

Question: Is this reflective of a shift in surgical education?

JB: We are on the verge of a surgical education crisis. There is too much to learn and too little time to learn it. New technologies and procedures are cropping up at an accelerating rate, posing a significant challenge for all surgeons. Increasing times with EMRs and administrative tasks mean less hands-on time for surgeons. These dynamics can help explain why 30 percent of residency graduates currently cannot operate independently.  Coupled with the fact that we are on track to be approximately 120,000 physicians short by 2030, and it is clear something needs to be done about this significant healthcare issue and fast.

Luckily, solutions like ours have been shown to be very effective when it comes to allowing surgeons to master procedures more efficiently outside of the operating room.  But training is only half the battle. We must ensure our providers are safe and effective before they lay hands on a patient. Currently, at almost no point in a surgeon's career are they objectively assessed for their technical proficiency. Osso VR introduces an objective way to measure knowledge and skill transfer, even allowing for peer-to-peer comparison. The ultimate goal of radically transforming surgical education is to improve patient outcomes. If improving our technical skill as surgeons means that patients will be safer, then why aren't we measuring our technical skill? With virtual reality we now have an effective and affordable tool to rapidly change the way we think about surgical assessment, and it is up to us to make the changes necessary in order to start addressing these growing threats to patient safety.  

More articles on orthopedics:
Say goodbye to 'what if' in surgery — Dr. Jonathan Schoenecker on how VR helps orthopedic surgeons train for the OR
Maryland orthopedic surgeon now performs minimally invasive bunionectomy: 3 notes
Dr. Nathan Richardson joins Comprehensive Care Clinics: 3 notes

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