Breakthrough virtual reality project up for innovation prize

WSLHD educational innovation and technology lead Nathan Moore demonstrates the advanced life support VR training program.

Western Sydney’s Australian-first program to train doctors in life support using virtual reality (VR) is a finalist in the annual University of Sydney Student Innovation Challenge.

The prototype program puts doctors into rare yet critical scenarios where every second counts as they direct a multi-disciplinary team attempting to save a patient in a cardiac arrest.

Such high-stakes encounters are less common thanks to advancements in modern healthcare and earlier identification of deterioration in patients, meaning doctors and nurses need additional training to keep their skills up to scratch.

Nathan Moore, educational innovation and technology lead for Western Sydney Local Health District, said he was “really excited” the application was chosen as one of five finalists in the start-up section of the annual prize.

“This a project I am really passionate about and truly believe will help revolutionise the way we deliver and reinforce advanced life support training to clinicians, and in turn improve patient outcomes,” Nathan said.

“We have received great feedback wherever we have demonstrated the application, and have had significant interest from local health district, industry and university partners.”

Dr Kanan Shah, clinical nurse specialist Sandra Warburton, Nathan Moore and simulation nurse educator Leah Fuller with a dummy used in simulation training.

The application uses a custom-built, state-of-the-art VR program to create an immersive and lifelike training experience, with the advantage that clinicians don’t need to be on site to use the portable technology – another bonus while the world deals with COVID-19.

The team will now pitch their idea to a virtual judging panel, and are also up for the people’s choice award as voted by the public.

“The Start-Up Innovation Prize and People’s Choice awards are a great opportunity to showcase our application amongst other great finalists working to find innovative solutions to real life challenges,” Nathan said.

“Please check out the Innovation Challenge website and vote and help us grow these projects into what we know they can become.”

Check out all the finalists and vote for ALS-SimVR here:

WSLHD has a good track record with people’s choice awards – last year resident Dr Shaheen Hasmat took out that honour at Sydney Local Health District’s The Big Idea with his prototype implantable bionic to treat facial paralysis.