The Surgical Digital Twin Patient

Virtual Surgical Training

By Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick
Twitter: @drnic1
Host of Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist#TheIncrementalist

On this episode I spoke with Raimundo Sierra, PhD, CEO & Founder of VirtaMed (@VirtaMed) who are empowering surgeons to reach proficiency by integrating intelligent simulation into medical education. Raimundo original experience focused on electrical engineering and medical image analysis that led him on a path to simulation technology and focusing on surgical simulation.

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In the early innovations they looked at flight simulators for pilots and how they might create a similar solution for doctors and surgeons. Together with a group of 20 or more PhD researchers they started work on modeling to create realistic versions of tissue, force feedback, and the various aspects of anatomy creating simulators for a range of surgical specialties. Along the way they got pushback from the clinicians who compared the experience of the early Laparoscopic simulators that was “just like playing Pacman but not real”.

Like many other guests a key incremental learning point is the importance of the adjacent possible. Thanks to collaboration, in part driven by a frequent interactions with surgeons with Raimundo’s office “5 minutes walk from the operating rooms” and a close relationship with the users to ensure relevance by focusing on what “surgeons care about”, with a goal of educating future surgeons to build the skills that are psychomotor skills to really perform excellent surgeries.

Along the way he discovered that the their high cost high performance computer from Sun Microsystems was outperformed by a low cost gaming machine he purchased.

Listen in to hear how they have started to apply Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning that can augment the surgeons skills, automating some basic activities like moving cameras to optimal positions, much like the sports cameras are done as live play unfolds, at different times during complex surgical procedures. And the future is bright with the potential for creating a Digital Twin patient and the exciting potential that offers to create personalized surgery.

About the Show
For years Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick, has served as a voice on the impact of new technologies on healthcare, earning a reputation as a leading authority on where the future of medicine is going. Combining powers of observation and real world experience, Dr. Nick has seen many predictions come true and makes the case that innovations in healthcare can be accomplished incrementally, not just by moonshot events. Tune in to hear Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist and his guests discuss what the future of healthcare looks like, how we will get there, and what it will take to improve healthcare for all.

This article was originally published on the Dr. Nick – The Incrementalist blog and is republished here with permission.