It’s not all bad news. There are some really impressive efforts at addressing global healthcare. Syrian doctors are performing life-saving operations with Skype; and surgeon John Langell developed the Xenoscope to bring minimally invasive surgery to regions of the world that can’t afford it. Each is a fantastic example of our greatest minds solving big problems. But, how can we go even further?
For Touch Surgery co-founder Andre Chow and I, the global proliferation of mobile phones – and, indeed, the internet – presented an opportunity for progress. We think that by integrating cutting-edge surgical mapping and visualization with game development, VR/AR, we can take deep procedural knowledge and create ground-breaking simulations, allowing surgeons to practice complex surgical procedures before stepping into the operating room – wherever in the world that OR may be. Now, access to support and training is in the palm of our hands. What’s more, the modules on Touch Surgery, created in partnership with universities like Harvard and John Hopkins, are being used by resident surgeons the world over, in countries like Russia and Spain, and even as far afield as Cambodia. We’re seeing incredibly promising results, and so we’ll continue to push forward.
What all of these efforts demonstrate – those by Touch Surgery, and doctors the world over – is the power of technology to help us break down the geographical barriers to raising the standard of surgery everywhere. Surgery at its core is about people and the unique encounter between a patient who needs help and a surgical team entrusted to deliver care. The driving force for professional education must therefore be to augment the performance of the surgical team and their tools/ medical devices to meet the needs of patients and populations in an equitable and efficient manner.
There is not going to be a technology silver bullet or just one solution. Supporting training of surgical teams with technology to drive better performance is just a start. We can only hope to have the same effect on lifespan / patient outcomes as the curriculum changes associated with the Flexner report.
We don’t yet have all the answers, but by combining intelligence and expertise from the business, engineering and medical worlds, there’s hope in truly innovative solutions to the world’s biggest health problems.