Bringing Surgical Expertise to the Developing World with Smart Glasses
Bridging the medical knowledge gap
The 2020 pandemic has all but killed office commutes. For many, this was a welcome shift. No longer would executives have to travel cross country or intercontinentally to attend meetings. Companies could save big on travel costs; video communication platforms like Zoom would ensure teams keep in touch remotely.
While this transition forced the business world to adapt, it may have an even bigger impact on the medical community. Training is set to be revolutionized by Smart Glasses, as surgeons-in-training receive guidance in real-time from experts - who aren’t in the same country as the operating room.
This breakthrough is made possible through the combined forces of Vuzix® and Ohana One, a surgical training nonprofit. The organization’s mission is to provide high-quality surgical and anesthesia programs to developing regions.
Although undeniably worthy, this mission has proven very expensive and resource-draining. However, Vuzix M400™ Smart Glasses allow the NGO to make serious inroads. Called Surgical Sight, the program is already sharpening the life-saving skills of medical professionals in places like Mozambique, Africa.
A mentorship improved
The first collaborative study worked like a dream, improving communication in a mentorship that was entering its tenth year. These surgeons couldn’t come from more different backgrounds.
- Mentor Dr. David Kulber is a leading hand and reconstructive surgeon from Los Angeles. The Surgical Sight program is his brainchild. He is also the cofounder of Ohana One.
- Mentee Dr. Pedro Santos is one of just three plastic surgeons in all of Mozambique.
Before Smart Glasses stepped in to ease communications, the mentorship required Dr. Kulber to make annual surgical mission trips to Mozambique. Obviously, this was less than ideal. The travel costs alone presented a major barrier to Dr. Santos’ education. Additionally, the mentee needed more than one yearly trip from his friend and mentor to maintain his skillset.
Equipped with Vuzix M400 Smart Glasses, Dr. Santos receives real-time training from Dr. Kulber. The expert can provide this training from his office or the comfort of his own home. Thanks to this technological breakthrough, the two can communicate year-round.
The ramifications for bringing top-notch medical care to the developing world is incredibly promising.
How Smart Glasses produce better surgeons
Especially as the technology becomes less expensive, the amount of mentorships Ohana One could arrange is endless. For that number to increase, more case studies need to take place.
Let’s explore how exactly Smart Glasses harness augmented reality (AR) to provide world-class training to surgeons:
See what your mentee sees:
The Smart Glasses feature a small camera that broadcasts everything its wearer sees. Mentors can see their mentee’s view in real-time, allowing them to walk them through even the most complex procedure with their voice. Even better: only one pair of Smart Glasses is required, as mentors can assist using a laptop, desktop, or smartphone. Like a regular video chat, conversation partners are seen in small boxes in the corner of each partner’s view.
Look doc, no hands:
The alternative to this technology would be mounting a smartphone on a doctor’s forehead. To avoid such an awkward and counterintuitive solution, the only physical touching required by M400 Smart Glasses are to turn them on before operations.
Capture and analyze:
From their office, mentors can take pictures of their mentee’s first-person point-of-view. They can then highlight points-of-interest using animation software, sending them back to mentees for teaching purposes. It’s the next best thing to actually being in the room.
Case studies, galore:
All procedures are recorded from the Smart Glasses’ camera. This gives educators more footage to use in classrooms - physical or virtual.
Clogging the ‘brain drain’
There may be no greater example of global wealth inequality than in medicine. This problem is exacerbated in parts of Africa, where the most talented homegrown doctors are lured abroad by greater financial opportunities.
Perhaps programs like Surgical Sight could even the playing field, providing medical professionals in the developing world top-notch training. Eventually, Smart Glasses could help increase global access to surgery.
Consider this scenario:
- Someone requires immediate assistance and an expert is nowhere near
- Anyone with Vuzix Smart Glasses and the necessary medical supplies could call up a surgeon
- The on-site attendee could be guided through the entire procedure by someone who knows it like the back of their hand
- Such a process would greatly increase the patient’s chances of survival
While wearable display tech improves medical industry working conditions, the benefits aren’t limited to that space. Businesses in countless sectors who onboard Smart Glasses into their operations are seeing major benefits. Singapore’s Changi Airport is saving time and resources. Supply chains are optimized as warehouse professionals perform with greater ease and precision.
The technology’s potential is only limited to the imagination of its user.
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