“There’s a global problem in central practice today when it comes to [surgical education],” says Jean Nehme, the CEO and one of the co-founders of Touch Surgery. “The way you learn surgery is: you see one, you do one, and then you teach one. But that’s risky and [medical students] need a way to increase competency during their training.” Touch Surgery was developed to solve precisely this issue at hand: how can we increase a surgeon’s familiarity with a particular surgical procedure prior to the actual procedure itself? The solution: a free mobile and tablet app available for the iOS and Android that simulates surgical operations in graphic 3D detail.
“How can you see or know what you’re doing if you don’t do it? We felt like there had to be a tool we could create to allow surgeons to exercise their cognitive task analysis…to better familiarize [themselves] with a procedure,” said Nehme.
According to Nehme, Touch Surgery was created on the principle that surgical performance is 75 percent reliant on cognitive skills – such as visual and pattern recognition – that will enable surgeons to make the right decisions; the other 25 percent involves the technical ability to perform the surgery. So, in order for a surgeon to perform at a higher level of competency, he or she needs to become better acclimated to the given surgery they’re about to undertake.
“There are a lot of things like videos, animations, and big-screen simulators that try to [improve surgical education]…but nothing that is presented or functions similarly [to Touch Surgery]. Our mobile approach gives [surgeons] a more engaging and beneficial experience.”
Touch Surgery is able to accomplish this by providing surgeons with a step-by-step guide on how to perform any given surgery (say you want to perform a “simple trochanteric wiring” – one of the surgical operations currently available on the app). The app fully engages the user by providing them with decision points during simulation, as well as giving them the ability to fully interact on-screen with each procedure. You can also track your progress and see where you can make improvements as you go through the operations.
It’s an impressive platform for improving surgical education; however, what’s even more impressive is that all four co-founders of Touch Surgery are practicing surgeons. They all have firsthand experience with the issues they’re attempting to solve and are all knowledgeable about health and medicine overall (between the four of them, they have 50 publications). “We really believe that this can be a gamechanger in healthcare. It can improve skills and knowledge, and provide better patient care.” In addition to the benefits that Touch Surgery can provide surgeons, they believe that it can have major effects on increasing patient knowledge on procedures and easing pre-surgery tensions.
And the value of Touch Surgery as a surgical education platform has certainly spread throughout the medical community. Since winning the health category at the Challenge Cup London, the app recently surpassed 180,000 downloads. This accomplishment is in addition to being able to work with specialists at NYU, Harvard, Duke, and Stanford to create new content on Touch Surgery, as well as improving the graphics on their current product. It will be exciting to see what updates they have come May, when they arrive in DC for the Challenge Cup Global Finals.
The Challenge Cup is produced by 1776 in partnership with Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs.