Immersive learning is set to take clinical excellence to new heights in the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, with healthcare professionals and students gaining hands-on experience at two upcoming signature conferences – the SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Conference in September and S3 Conference in October 2022.

A medical student preparing to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation for the first time. The accident and emergency team gearing up to receive a trauma patient. Residents running through their surgical procedural skills.

Simulation ends. Review and refine.

These immersive learning environments, enabled by emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) — collectively known as Extended Reality (XR), are gradually becoming an integral part of healthcare education globally and here at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC).

XR has allowed for training to be done in a realistic manner whereby learners can proactively interact with other users in virtual environments and hone their skills, all without the risks of the high-stakes clinical setting, where the provision of safe and quality care for our patients are paramount

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Embracing the benefits of immersive learning

“Interactions in immersive learning can recreate what is done in real life and overcome some of the challenges we may face in healthcare training,” said Professor Fernando Bello, Co-Director of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Medical Simulation (SIMS) and Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning and Innovation at Duke-NUS Medical School. “We can simulate anatomical structures and surgical regions through AR, manipulate them in different ways and use it to perform dissection or surgical planning. Trainees can see how surgical procedures are performed and how these regions look before and after,” Prof Bello explained.

“With XR, they can see how an emergency resuscitation room looks like in reality, for example. Immersive learning allows learners to practise repetitively — what we call ‘deliberate practice’ — so that they can hone their skills, familiarise themselves with the steps and equipment involved and apply theoretical knowledge without any danger or mishaps to patients and themselves.” explained Prof Fatimah Lateef, Co-Director of SIMS and who partners Prof Bello to drive Technology Enhanced Learning in the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC.

On top of honing technical skills, team games in immersive learning are particularly effective in improving collaborative work. “It will probably be adopted as another means of delivering healthcare education, more commonly for team-based training such as simulating pandemic situations and emergencies,” said Clinical Associate Professor Marianne Ong, Co-Organising Chairperson of the upcoming SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Conference 2022.

The virtual format also keeps learning accessible despite physical limitations. “Learners can tap on immersive learning to continue their training exclusive of a clinical environment, protecting them from adverse risks. It can also bring people from different locations together,” said Ms Kirsty Freeman, Co-Organising Chairperson for this year’s education conference.

Medical students, residents and other clinicians in selected SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Clinical Programmes (ACP) — academic medicine frameworks to optimise synergy in clinical care, education and research — have begun reaping the benefits of these enabling technologies, many of whom appreciate the highly engaging format.

For instance, the Neuroradiology team at the National Neuroscience Institute utilises interactive 3D gameplay in their ‘MRI Safety in Healthcare’ game to facilitate learning of magnetic resonance safety concepts.

The game allows the team to recreate dangerous situations in a safe space, so learners can identify lapses that might occur and decide on actions to take when a life is in danger. It has been rolled out at radiology departments at Singapore General Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Sengkang General Hospital.

Meanwhile on the SGH campus, the SIMS i3 Hub at Academia offers a dedicated space housing the latest simulation technologies and gaming equipment to facilitate learning, collaboration and innovation.

Read more: Get to know the team behind the SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Medical Simulation (SIMS) i3 Hub.

“The rapidly changing disease patterns and shifting healthcare landscape have accelerated healthcare digital transformation through simulation, adding impetus to using gamification in clinical training,” shared Prof Lateef.

“For example, the Otolaryngology (ENT) team at Changi General Hospital and SIMS have recently co-developed a VR game that allows Residents to learn about the middle ear and mastoid anatomy through interactive exercises and scenarios. The realistic animations of the ear models with detailed anatomy structures allow learners to explore the anatomy and deepen their learning in a safe and engaging manner,” she added.

“Immersive learning is likely to see increased adoptions within the next five years,” shared Prof Bello, who added that technological advances in the coming years will also enhance virtual interactions, making it more sophisticated, complex and intuitive.

In the distant future, immersive learning may even extend to patient education. For instance, patients and their families can tap into virtual learning spaces to understand their healthcare journey ahead of surgery or scans. “It’s going to make their experience more pleasurable and keep them informed before they visit our institutions,” said Ms Freeman.

Despite the benefits, Prof Bello was quick to stress that technology is merely a tool and its success depends on how effectively it contributes to learning outcomes. “We have to understand how XR can add value to the current limitations in education,” said Prof Bello.

Discover the Future of Healthcare Education and Immersive Learning at two upcoming signature SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC Conferences

Reinvigorating Healthcare Education: Connecting Hearts, Cultivating Minds

SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Conference 2022 | 16 & 17 September 2022

Come 15 September, healthcare educators and learners will be able to acquaint themselves with immersive learning applications through an interactive workshop. Titled ‘Immersive Learning – Introduction and Hands-on Experience’, the 90-minute event is part of the lead-up to SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Conference 2022.

Beyond immersive learning, the main conference will also gather healthcare educators and learners to discuss a wide range of the latest topics and trends in healthcare education.

It is the first time that the conference will be held in a hybrid format so it remains accessible to a wider audience, allowing healthcare learners and educators to connect and share their experiences after the pandemic.

Ready to learn more about the future of healthcare education and connect with other like-minded healthcare educators and learners? Click here to register for the SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Conference 2022.

Transforming the Healthcare Simulation Spectrum: Now, Next and Beyond

S3 Conference 2022 | 19 to 21 October 2022, Academia

Internationally renowned experts in healthcare simulation and training will be gathering at the S3 Conference to discuss a broad range topics dedicated to serious games and XR applications, and explore new modalities such as gamification! In addition to the main conference, healthcare learners can participate in the pre-conference workshops to gain hands-on, simulation-focused skills training.

With simulation having played a critical role in healthcare training throughout the pandemic, the S3 Conference is a timely avenue to reconnect the healthcare simulation community, ignite ideas and foster stronger collaborations to transform learning and training practices.”

Keen to learn how the spectrum of simulation training will transform the future of healthcare? Click here to register for the S3 Conference 2022.

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