Hospital makes $119 million bet on virtual, augmented reality center

The University of Nebraska Medical Center will give doctors and nurses hands-on training with emerging technology.
By Mike Miliard
01:11 PM
Share
Davis Global Center University of Nebraska

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has broken ground on a new $119 million facility meant to help physicians and nurses train for next-generation care delivery using emerging virtual and augmented reality technology.

The Omaha-based Davis Global Center will deploy various simulation platforms to help optimize medical training for clinicians, with an eye toward ultimately improving quality and safety, officials said.

"Learners do best by having experience, whether it’s learning how to play a sport, a musical instrument or, in my case, do cardiac surgery," UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, MD, said in a statement. "The more experience, the more practice, the more hands-on opportunities we get, the better off  we are to deliver high quality, safe, effective and patient-centered care. This center will achieve all of  those goals and continue to bring Nebraska to the epicenter of the learning world."

The Dr.  Edwin Davis & Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center for Advanced Interprofessional Learning is funded through a combination of private donations as well as grants from from the City of Omaha, State of  Nebraska and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 192,000-square-foot facility will house UNMCs Interprofessional Experiential Center for  Enduring Learning, or iEXCEL program, which aims to help physicians and other healthcare professionals do clinical training exercises and develop surgical skills via advanced simulation technologies, virtual immersive reality, augmented reality and holographic technologies, officials say.

The center's advancements will include the creation of 3-D/virtual and augmented reality content for clinical and surgical training modules; leading-edge technology such as the iEXCEL Helix  – an extended 280-degree curved screen creating a 2-D/3-D immersive environment; laser-based "3-D iSpace," a five-sided virtual immersive reality environment, and a 130-seat holographic auditorium.

UNMC officials say the Davis Global Center will form the hub of a statewide network of other simulation centers, enabling collaboration to provide new research and development opportunities. It's expected to create about 325 jobs and lead to $40 million in economic growth for the state.

The goal is to move beyond traditional lecture-based models to embrace more hands-on experiential learning, which can improve retainment of skills competencies proficiencies. Thus, the traditional mentor-based "see one, do one, teach one" training model for physicians will now be complemented by human patient simulators, surgical simulation, interactive visualization tools such as head-mounted displays, interactive "learning walls" and 3-D virtual immersive reality environments.

"Studies have shown that with traditional lectures, there is  about a 5 percent retention rate of knowledge, whereas if you have hands-on practice or immediate  application, it increases the rate up to 90 percent," said UNMC student Cindy Chou, who is scheduled to graduate in May with an MD and PhD. "So, in that sense, we really need to be doing more active learning and more practicing."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN