This article features several use cases from medical technology and accredited education institutions, hospitals, laboratories and public healthcare providers. We show how interactive images, videos, and virtual tours can be used to improve not only patient experience, but also clinical training of physicians and other healthcare professionals.
What medical training can you do online?
Medical and health care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centers and specialized care centers, are continuously evolving high-tech working environments that operate under specified rules and regulations, shared with hundreds of workers and thousands of patients daily. New remote learning solutions for medical training and health care communication are in high demand when equipment, regulations and recommendations need to be updated regularly -- and often in multiple languages.
Can medical students learn to operate medical appliances and devices remotely without being hands-on? How can we help physicians to produce and share diagnostic imaging with colleagues and patients online? Is it possible to create training programs for diagnostic or communication skills remotely using 360 videos?
1. Virtual tours of laboratories and treatment rooms
Virtual labs and lab tours are one of the most popular and immediately useful application areas of interactive media in medical training and the healthcare industry. The virtual tour of SCC Radiography Lab by Phil Baucom is a great example of how a single image can include use instructions, in this case instructional videos, for each of the appliances in the room. The second example by Paul Driver is a virtual tour of an ambulance created for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
Keele University academics created a virtual lab in ThingLink to train postgraduate students in the use of x-ray fluorescence spectrometers and an ion chromatography system, with impressive results. Their full findings are also summarised here.
2. Health, safety and PPE online training for health care workers and volunteers
One of the everyday challenges at hospitals and care facilities is having enough resources for training employees and volunteers about health and safety matters, such as the use of Personal Protective Equipment. This example of a virtual walk through in a hospital including safety and PPE training information was created by Jenny Taylor.
3. Maps, floor plans, and digital signage solutions
Interactive maps and floor plans on large touch screens can help new employees to quickly get an overview of a physical facility, the location of different departments and services. The first examples is an interactive illustration of M.Y. Phoenix, a 40-metre vessel equipped with two Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 (drones), high-speed rescue boats and a fully-stocked clinic to provide emergency search, rescue and medical aid. The illustration was created by Doctors Without Borders and featured on the MSF website.
Metrasens provides advanced magnetic detection and screening technologies to a wide range of sectors including medical facilities. This example features an interactive floor plan of a health care facility showcasing applications of screening technology for improving health security. The map is embedded on Metrasens' website.
4. Annotated 360s for improved patient experience and a useful overview for new staff
Many patients, especially children, can feel anxious about visiting a hospital or other health care facility. For them, it can be helpful to see a 360-image of the reception area or treatment room before the visit. This example of a dentist treatment room was created by Nearpod. This media could also be used if for example the practice was employing a dental assistant from an agency and wanted to give them an overview of the treatment room before arrival. Some types of Healthcare professionals, such as Certified Clinical Medical Assistants (CCMAs) may need an overview of the entire working site. In this situation, it would be simple to create a tour of the hospital or clinic. Our new floorplan feature gives your viewers a great overview of how the virtual rooms fit together - read more at our recent blog here or in this handy walk-through support article.
How effective is online medical training?
What is the evidence for using Virtual Training in Healthcare settings? This summary contains great examples of independent research into how medical professionals increased their competency rate at various procedures using virtual and augmented reality training.
5. Diagnostic imaging
Annotating diagnostic imaging such as X-rays with text and audio notes can not only help doctors to share diagnostic information and electronic health records with medical students and colleagues, but it can also help doctors to communicate with patients from different language backgrounds and reading abilities using integrated Immersive Reader. This example shows an X-ray image with embedded anonymized patient information and diagnosis. Here is another example of what may have happened to Ötzi, a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE.
6. Medical terminology
Starting from the basics, learning medical terminology is vital across the entire healthcare spectrum. Here are three great examples by Idiomas on ThingLink of how simple image annotation can be used to learn medical vocabulary. Two other examples: Hospital units and Operation room. A thorough understanding of medical terminology is required for all types of healthcare roles including administrative ones such as medical coding, medical billing and medical transcription, as well as clinical roles. You could include interactive materials like the ones above in training for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, certified medical administrative assistants (CMAAs) and anyone working in a medical office.
7. Educational videos
The main benefit of annotating educational videos for medical and health care training is the ability to provide students a self-paced visual learning experience with instant access to additional information at various stages of the video. This example by Alzheimer 's research UK, walks the viewer through dementia using a video from patient's home. These sorts of videos can be used at any stage of medical or healthcare career training and from certificate programs all the way to a bachelor’s degree program and beyond.
8. Virtual trainings for physicians and first responders
If training cannot be arranged in physical locations, medical professionals and students can to some extent practice patient treatment and communication in virtual training. The skills learnt in these online courses can then be practised in a physical environment. Alternatively, the certification exam can be linked directly from the training materials at the end of the online program or training course. In this example, Savonlinna Vocational College tested the use of 360 videos for training first aid responders. Here is another great example from Samiedu Vocational College. You can read about how they produced their interactive learning material in the full case study.
Looking for more inspiration? Read our case study on Dr Abhilasha Jones’s Escape Room to teach sepsis to students at the University of Central Lancashire.
9. Health protection and promotion in public health campaigns
The purpose of public health education is to help groups of people, from family units to large urban communities, by developing educational campaigns and programs. These can be used to promote healthy habits and environments or on a more local level to encourage the public to enroll in blood or organ donation programs or first aid training. Images and videos with interactive hotspots and even audio narration are an engaging, scalable and cost-efficient way to educate millions of people on important public health matters.
The first example features a collaborative project by Aviemore Medical Practice, local green health activity providers and other third sector partners, which aims to develop a green health referral pathway through which patients could be 'prescribed' contact with nature for improved physical and mental health and wellbeing. The second image is from an interactive guide to viral hepatitis created by Doctors Without Borders featuring a pharmacist distributing medication at a clinic in the Harandi area of Tehran, Iran's capital.