COVID-19 hasn’t just delayed elective medical procedures and healthcare screenings—it may also be complicating surgical training provided by medical device company representatives. “Reps have been using Powerpoint over Zoom,” said Sam Glassenberg. But such an approach could lack the interaction typically need for surgical instruction.
With an Emmy-award-winning background in video game development, Glassenberg founded Level Ex and has already made an impact with doctor-training video games such as Pulm Ex, an MDEA-winning mobile video game for training pulmonologists. Now he and his team have set out to change surgical training.
Even before COVID-19 hit, “There’s been a massive gap in what gaming can do and how we’re training doctors,” Glassenberg told MD+DI. Surgical training, for instance, involves “guideline-based decision-making, but flowcharts are hard to memorize,” he told MD+DI. “Surgeons learn by making mistakes. We can help them learn virtually by allowing them to see whether their decisions help patient outcomes.”
Level Ex has launched Virtual Technique Guides, described by the company as a “collaborative surgical training platform [that] applies the multiplayer interactivity of cloud gaming to enable surgeons to perform virtual procedures with medical device sales representatives over the same web conferencing platform.” Glassenberg will share the potential of such technology in the upcoming BIOMEDigital session, Performing Multi-User Virtual Surgery over Zoom: Enabling Device Sales through Collaborative Surgical Training, Wednesday, November 4 at 2:30pm - 3:00pm EST.
For instance, using Level Ex’s new technology, reps could send a link or a QR Code to surgeons that takes them to a cloud-based virtual surgery for a virtual patient that is “totally interactive,” Glassenberg said. “We can just jump in there and do a surgery.”
Such technology was previously “locked up by the gaming industry,” Glassenberg said. “Now the minds behind ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘Mortal Combat,’ and ‘Words with Friends’ are all at Level Ex.” The team set out to develop a cloud-based interactive platform, as in the “games business, it all just runs out of the cloud,” he added. The result is Level Ex’s Remote Play, the platform on which Virtual Technique Guides run. The cloud-based gaming technology “runs on super-powerful chips” that support “cutting-edge gaming tech tools,” he explained.
Trainees don’t have to download apps or install software. Virtual Technique Guides can be integrated into any web conferencing platform such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts.
These capabilities enable sales representatives to train surgeons located anywhere in the world, replicating any type of medical device, surgical procedure, patient type, or surgical complication, according to Level Ex. “If a surgeon in Maine is having trouble with a specific step in a procedure, a trainer from a medical device company located in Boston can virtually meet with that surgeon within minutes to go through the procedure, step-by-step, in the Virtual Technique Guides remote training environment,” the company reported in a news release.
Level Ex’s technology may also help trainees who had been dissecting cadavers but no longer have access to such training during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simulated, interactive surgery also offers trainees the opportunity to train for a variety of scenarios. “They’ve needed something that lets them train on a variety of patients,” said Glassenberg. Watch this video for a demo.
Level Ex can develop Virtual Technique Guides with "accurate recreation of medical devices or accessories down to microns," Glassenberg told MD+DI.