Home » Men's healthcare » The emerging importance of digital technology in surgeon training

Matteo Amodio RN

Senior Medical Science Liaison, Medtronic Digital Surgery 

Hiten Patel MD, PhD

Professor of Urology, Surgeon and Executive Principal Medical Advisor, Medtronic Digital Surgery

Innovative apps and digital resources are bringing fresh approaches to the way surgeons learn new techniques.

Traditionally, surgeons learn procedures via observation, supervision and practice, but over the last two decades that has evolved to include simulation trainers and surgical video.

These tools are used to better prepare surgeons for their cases and to help with patient communication about procedures.

Today, mobile platforms such as the Touch Surgery™ App, are available on mobile devices that can enable surgeons to review cases and learn new procedures – both of which had clear benefits during COVID-19 when face-to-face training was restricted – as well as enable experienced surgeons to maintain and update their skills.

High-level training

Urological surgeon Hiten Patel says apps help deliver high-levels of training, which has been shown to be transferrable to the operating theatre, while helping improve patient safety and surgical outcomes. “The aim is to maintain a patient focus, increase accuracy and deliver good quality care with minimal risk to patients,” he adds.

Medtronic Digital Surgery created the Touch Surgery™ app, which covers urological procedures, in addition to cardiothoracic surgery, general surgery, and dentistry. It can be used to train surgeons in open, keyhole or robotic techniques.

Urological procedures available on the app include catheterisation and transperineal MRI-targeted prostate biopsy. The simulation of catheterisation takes the user through how to use an endoscope to look at the bladder through the urethra, known as cystoscopy. This is the most common procedure performed by urologists. The simulation of transperineal MRI-targeted prostatic biopsy guides the user step by step through the process of gathering a prostate sample to help diagnose prostate cancer.

The app is a tool which has the potential to benefit the surgeon, training surgeon, the hospital team delivering the surgery and the patient.

Benefits for healthcare practitioners

Professor Patel explains that with the need for precision and accuracy, the Touch Surgery™ App aims to shorten learning curves and increase knowledge transfer, with the hope to improve surgical standardisation and patient outcomes around the globe.

“It can also help keep the patient informed as we can show patients a simulation of their operation in a non-graphic way,” he says. App technology can teach healthcare practitioners to perform procedures as well as demonstrating non-technical skills involved in pre-procedural set up to the operating team, such as patient positioning.

“We know that if a team works well together, the patient is safer,” he adds. “The app is a tool which has the potential to benefit the surgeon, training surgeon, the hospital team delivering the surgery and the patient.”

Cognitive task trainer and digital ecosystem

The app is a cognitive task trainer, using high-definition computer graphics, that enables users to rehearse and test themselves on procedures.

Matteo Amodio, who has a specialist urology nursing background, explains that as a data-driven business using artificial intelligence analytics and augmented reality technology, Medtronic Digital Surgery has two products supporting surgical training in urology and other disciplines.

The app features over 200 surgical simulations across 21 specialties, while Touch Surgery™ Enterprise – which consists of a cloud-based storage platform – can capture videos in real-time and store them for surgeons for future reference, training of students or to demonstrate points to patients.

The Enterprise solution includes the DS1 computer in operating theatres that facilitates recording and transferring of surgical video onto the cloud. With enhanced AI, the powerful computer captures videos of operations and uploads for post-op review.

Professional development

Various Touch Surgery™ App simulations have been academically validated by over 19 independent peer-reviewed publications1 for their groundbreaking approach to training, including accreditation by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, enabling users to claim Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points.2 Healthcare professionals are also able to upload and reflect on their cases, in order to obtain CPD points.

“Users can access it anywhere and at any time. They can rehearse a procedure, even moments before stepping into the operating theatre.”

Prepare, practice, and teach surgical procedures — anytime, anywhere — with the free-to-download, academically validated and accredited Touch Surgery™ mobile app.

Touch Surgery™ Enterprise is not intended to direct surgery, or aid in diagnosis or treatment of a disease or condition. Touch Surgery™ App has been validated by peer reviewed journals for specific procedures and is accredited for CPD points only.

[1] Details of individual simulation validation available here: https://www.touchsurgery.com/peer-reviewed-research
[2] Accredited by The Royal College of Surgeons of England: https://digitalsurgery.com/2019/10/03/cpd/

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