Connect the Dots delivers a virtual reality (VR) tool to the healthcare sector, increasing the quality and availability of medical procedure training. “We use VR to prepare health workers for real-life events where they must act quickly to save a patient’s life,” says Siva Snarby, CEO and co-founder of Connect the Dots (CTD).
Snarby knows first-hand how emergency helps to save lives. When her brother had an allergic reaction to nuts, his girlfriend, a health worker, saved his life. “It was a matter of seconds between life and death. Thankfully, she had good training in use of the EpiPen,” says Snarby.
Not all healthcare personnel receive adequate training, however. “In-person training is not offered as often as it should be due to high costs and time constraints. Also, procedures must be practiced regularly in order to be executed correctly,” she explains.
The CTD training tool immerses healthcare personnel in realistic scenarios before treating patients in real life. They use VR goggles to enter a virtual hospital room with equipment. Once in the virtual space, they can learn and practice a medical procedure.
“Our solution is user friendly. Health workers can train alone or with a group of colleagues from around the country or even the world,” says Snarby.
Under continual development, the current CTD tool allows personnel to conduct a virtual patient assessment using the Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability and Exposure (ABCDE) method.
“The patient is extremely realistic. He can turn his head and cough, and the health worker can see his condition deteriorate and take appropriate action. In the future, personnel will be able to talk with the patient as well,” says Snarby.
The CTD tool improves patient care with optimal, time-efficient training. Health workers learn to detect patient deterioration earlier, potentially saving lives and avoiding complications.
Staff competency will increase as well. Personnel can learn a variety of procedures, as well as practice at their convenience to keep their skills honed.
“Our solution will make hospitals less vulnerable to staff turnover. Employees will feel more confident in their tasks. Arguably, this will boost their job satisfaction and reduce sick leave, which is a problem today,” says Snarby.
In addition, hospitals will reduce their in-person training costs and avoid hiring temporary help.
While VR medical training is relatively new, a Norwegian study found that hospital employees are interested in using such equipment, seeing it as tool for supplementing and maintaining their knowledge. Another study found that VR training resulted in good learning outcomes. The study also showed that participants who had undergone VR training were more satisfied with their VR training than the participants who had undergone traditional training.
“We expect to address a range of potentially fatal conditions with our VR tools, from blood poisoning to Covid-19,” says Snarby.
Within a year or two, Connect the Dots will offer VR training on the National Early Warning Score (NEWS2) and the Identify, Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendation (ISBAR) tool. The company plans to increase its market share in Norway and then introduce the product internationally.
Snarby and Connect the Dots recently won funding from Women TechEU, a new initiative under Horizon Europe, the world’s largest programme for research and innovation.