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Virtual Reality Meets the Operating Room: Digital Health Summer Summit Audience Experiences a Live Surgery in VR

June 8, 2016
If you thought Virtual Reality was just something to be used at the movies or for gaming, then you need to listen to Dr. Shafi Ahmed.  Ahmed just broadcast his surgery from his operating room in a London hospital to medical students, practitioners and anyone interested in watching.

At the 5th annual Digital Health Summer Summit at BIO International Convention, Dr. Ahmed recreated the experience for the audience attendees.  They downloaded an app and used Google Cardboard provided by iO Lifescience to immerse themselves in his surgery and really feel that they were there.

Ahmed hopes that by providing VR surgeries he is helping train doctors and surgeons worldwide. Rural doctors without access to top surgical training would be able to have a view of a procedure that they could never have any other way.

Surprisingly, Ahmed found that patients and their families also wanted to be involved in the VR experience. “When you’re in surgery for 5 or 6 hours and you and your family doesn’t know what happened, you might feel out of control and in the dark," said Ahmed.  Witnessing the surgery, he said, provided a level of education and comfort.

Based on his success, Ahmed co-founded Medical Realities, a company that will use augmented and virtual reality techniques to train physicians.  “VR is still in its infancy," said Ahmed, “as we begin to combine tactile information, natural language and other new technologies the virtual experience will become even more realistic.”  Today, Ahmed’s technology is training physicians, tomorrow it may be letting physicians watch robots performing operations.

Dr. Ahmed gave the opening keynote address "The Immersive Future Reborn–Medicine + VR Meets the World" at day one of the Digital Health Summer Summit.  Today marks day two of the conference, which takes a deep dive into the elements of a successful digital health venture and you can view the full agenda  here ( Digital Health Summer Summit is produced by Living in Digital Times.