Lifelike learning in 3D

Published on 15/06/2022 in Innovate

Lifelike learning in 3D

The paramedic intervention teams at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital are honing their skills using immersive technology. They practice in virtual but lifelike situations.

The pandemic meant that the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw (Our Blessed Lady’s) Hospital in Aalst, Asse and Ninove could not organize classroom training. E-learning was often too static and so the hospital started looking for a new approach to digital training. “It is not always easy for employees to schedule training,” says Managing Director Peter Verhulst. “That’s why we opt for a flexible approach where the employees can receive training regardless of time and place. These include small, targeted sessions of half an hour each, which allow them to develop very specific skills.”

Completely immersed

Proximus’ Trainr is a platform for immersive learning. It uses VR and AR for immersive training for medical staff. Frank Staelens, Director Processes & Quality: “We gave training the paramedic intervention team top priority.” The theoretical part is similar to that of a classic e-learning solution. The difference lies in the immersive part. “It is essential for an intervention team to learn how to remain calm in difficult circumstances and ensure their own safety. VR uses 3D and lets you experience the situation, such as an accident, in a true-to-life scenario.”

We can see how candidates react in a real-life situation. That helps us select the best people for our intervention teams.

Frank Staelens, Director Processes & Quality

“It lets you practice in circumstances that feel real,” said Verhulst, “and even makes you experience the same stress.” That is why Trainr offers a very valuable supplement to the theoretical training. “We used to let the teams go out with the rapid response team as an exercise,” Staelens added. “Now we can see how candidates react in a real-life situation. That helps us select the best people for the intervention teams.” Every VR session is followed by a discussion of the exercise. Verhulst: “Those feedback moments remain important.”

In the long term, VR will have a permanent place in the hospital’s toolbox.

Frank Staelens, Director Processes & Quality

Accelerated by the pandemic

The team at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital is now looking into which other training courses Trainr can offer. “We want to make it broader,” said Verhulst, “and include nurses and doctors. VR offers many advantages. You can practice procedures on a virtual body, prepare certain types of robotic surgery virtually and much more.” The hospital is convinced that, in the long term, VR will be a permanent part of the available toolbox. Staelens: “Innovation is very important in our field and we surround ourselves with proven partners. By integrating applications from industry like Trainr into healthcare, we are continuously making progress.”

In other areas, the pandemic has accelerated the use of digital solutions. “Our past experience with digital consultations was less than great,” Staelens admitted. “But, during the lockdowns, digital consultation proved to be the only possible alternative.” Today, patients often prefer to visit the doctor physically. “But reporting digitally is here to stay,” said Staelens. “For example, patients can now easily find the results of an examination in their digital file.”

Trialing technology

At the same time, the pandemic increased the adoption of technology in home care. Staelens: “For example, take patients who were given an oxygen saturation meter or a blood pressure monitor and that opened up more possibilities for remote patient monitoring.” This is another approach that is here to stay beyond the pandemic. “Doctors, nurses, patients: all the stakeholders have had a taste of that integrated process,” said Verhulst. “The experience turned out to be positive. I don’t see us going back to how things were any time soon.”

Peter Verhulst is Managing Director at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital Aalst - Asse - Ninove.

Frank Staelens is Director of Processes & Quality at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital Aalst - Asse - Ninove.

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