AZ Groeninge develops cleaner training in VR

Published on 29/04/2024 in Customer Stories

It is not always easy to find cleaners for the operating theater. To lower the threshold and provide efficient training, AZ Groeninge is relying on a VR application.

AZ Groeninge develops cleaner training in VR

Hygiene is paramount in the operating theater. A team carries out an interim cleaning after every operation. And a thorough cleaning is always performed at the end of the working day. “Cleaning an operating theater follows a strict protocol,” says Brian Desplinter, innovation project leader at AZ Groeninge in Kortrijk. “Practical training is indispensable in order to perform that correctly.”

However, it is not always easy to organize that training effectively. After all, the hospital’s operating rooms are in use throughout the day. Brian Desplinter: “It meant that training in the operating theater could only happen very early in the morning or late at night. That was not so convenient for the trainees.” And even though the hospital was eager to organize more training, in practice it simply was not always possible.

Getting to work with VR

This challenge came up during a brainstorming session with Proximus NXT. Desplinter: “The conversation led us to formulate a concept for that specific training to be launched with VR.” VR turns out to be a very suitable technology for familiarizing trainee cleaners with the specific context of an operating theater, and to teach them the cleaning protocol step by step.

Through the VR headset, the trainee cleaner receives training in a digital twin of the operating room.

Brian Desplinter, innovation project leader at AZ Groeninge

In practice, the training consists of three steps. Desplinter: “In the first part, trainees learn how to use VR.” The second part involves the actual training. “Through the VR headset, the trainee finds themselves in a digital twin of the operating room, standing next to the cleaning cart with all the cleaning materials. A voice explains step by step what actions the cleaner has to take.” After two to three weeks comes the third phase of the training. The trainee cleaner then goes through the entire cleaning process again, this time without instructions.

Innovation through co-creation

The training is the result of a co-creation process between AZ Groeninge, Proximus NXT, and OneBonsai, a Belgian developer of VR applications. Desplinter: “The technical setup is quite simple. The trainee puts on a Meta Quest VR headset and has a virtual watch with which they can call the instructor. Their instructor follows the training on a tablet.”

We can now train trainees at any time, regardless of the availability of a physical operating theatre.

Brian Desplinter, innovation project leader at AZ Groeninge

Realistic picture of the job

Currently, AZ Groeninge provides two VR headsets as part of its training. Desplinter: “The benefits are obvious. We can now train trainees at any time, regardless of the availability of a physical operating theater, and with no impact on the hospital’s routine.”

By offering the training through VR, AZ Groeninge is also lowering the threshold for a job in the operating theater. Desplinter: “We notice that there are sometimes some preconceptions about that. The VR training gives a realistic picture of the job, which ultimately leads to more recruits.

The VR application also allows trainees to practice in a very focused way on specific parts of the cleaning protocol, resulting in excellent training results. In fact, the training is suitable for both newcomers and experienced employees. For newcomers it provides a solid basis, while for existing employees it serves as regular continuous training. Thus, the steps learned become automatic for everyone.

A lot to learn

Furthermore, the training also proves to be a plus for the hospital’s employer branding. This is a nice bonus, given the labor shortage facing the healthcare sector. “We put a lot of effort into training and innovation,” concludes Brian Desplinter, “even in a field you wouldn’t expect, such as cleaning. You can learn a lot with us, and that’s the chance we want to give people.”

Are you familiar with all forms of Extended Reality (CR), such as Assisted, Augmented, and Mixed Reality? Do you know how you can effectively use these in your company?

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