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Medical simulation in mixed reality

Varjo & Laerdal: Bringing Immersive Healthcare Training to Life

Laerdal is a global leader in patient simulation. The company has 1,500 employees in 24 countries developing products and programs for healthcare providers to help improve patient outcomes and survival.

Laerdal’s mission is ambitious: to help save an additional one million lives every year by 2030. Towards this end, Laerdal is working with Varjo with the goal of developing the next generation of immersive, effective mixed reality training for medical scenarios.

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Key Benefits of Varjo for Medical Simulation:

  • Combine core competencies in both physical and digital training to develop new solutions
  • Do immersive, effective, efficient and personalized training across time zones and locations
  • Get better data on trainee performance and unlock new development opportunities for stronger training outcomes in the future

The Challenge: Bridging the Gap Between Physical and Digital Training

Laerdal has been looking into immersive technology for more than a decade. While the technology has shown promise, the solutions out there simply haven’t been mature or cost-effective enough to meet Laerdal’s needs. In particular, the visual fidelity and immersion have not been sufficient to provide meaningful learning outcomes.

Varjo & Laerdal: Medical simulation in virtual and mixed reality

For example, bringing in real-world objects like a physical manikin into a simulation is hard or impossible in virtual reality. In augmented reality, the immersion is weak, as virtual objects look translucent and lack realism.

For Laerdal, this has meant that digital and physical training have largely been developed as entirely separate solutions. Both approaches have their benefits and weaknesses:

Physical training is effective but costly

In-person physical training is effective, but it requires a strong facilitator, and for the best learning outcomes the number of trainees needs to be limited. In addition, it’s simply not feasible to build physical props for every potential medical scenario a healthcare professional may encounter.

Digital solutions can hinder emotional connection

Digital training, on the other hand, is highly scalable and can be done remotely. When the training happens on a computer screen, the emotional connection and immersion are however easily weakened compared to physical training.

Real-life scenarios need to be practiced safely

A lot of learning also happens in real-life with actual patients. There, the emotional connection is by far the strongest, but when lives are at stake, no mistakes can be made. Learners need to be able to practice in a fail-safe environment before the real-life scenarios.

The question Laerdal wanted to answer is how to combine the strengths of these different training methods to create an even more effective learning environment. How to safely prepare for unexpected events while still ensuring strong learning outcomes – and do it in a cost-effective way?

“A VR or XR headset like Varjo can take digital learning into a whole new field.”

David Frahm-Falkenberg - Managing Director at Laerdal Copenhagen
Hear how Laerdal uses Varjo's mixed reality to develop medical simulations

The Solution: Fully Immersive Mixed Reality Training & Simulation

Laerdal decided to start exploring ways to combine physical and digital solutions, which led them to working with Varjo. With Varjo’s mixed reality, the best of both worlds, and additional benefits, are finally within reach.

Scalable & efficient training

Mixed reality combines the scalability and ease of online training with the immersion and efficiency found in physical training – and increasing them further. Thanks to the new solutions being researched by Laerdal and powered by the Varjo headset, entirely new training methods can be created.

Work together across locations and time zones

Trainees will be able to join the same shared simulation together, across any time zones and locations, working simultaneously in the same, highly immersive scenario and interacting naturally with each other as if standing in the same room.

Interact with physical objects and virtual contents

Furthermore, with Varjo’s video pass-through, physical objects and tools present in the real world such as manikins, monitors, and medical devices can easily be incorporated into the virtual simulation and combined with digital equivalents as needed. Trainees can use their own hands and instruments naturally, removing negative training.

The Outcome: New, High-Fidelity Healthcare Simulations

Through the use of Varjo’s mixed reality, Laerdal is now in the process of developing new immersive simulation solutions. The new training solutions can combine existing technologies such as data collection, immersive simulation and cloud-based infrastructure to deliver something never seen before.

With the help of immersive technology, teams of healthcare professionals from across the world can work together in any medical scenario, seamlessly collaborating and sharing their knowledge. The mixed reality simulation experience offers great visual fidelity and high immersion to ensure the strongest learning outcomes for each participant.

“With Varjo’s latest headsets, we see a potential to take high-fidelity simulation training to a new level of realism, immersion and emotional engagement.”

Ingrid Laerdal - Vice President of Patient Care at Laerdal

A Fail-Safe Environment for Healthcare Training

“Immersive simulation training that replicates real-life scenarios is essential in helping prepare health care providers and students provide safe patient care.”

– Ingrid Laerdal, Vice President of Patient Care at Laerdal

Even more importantly, this concept will offer a fail-safe learning environment to train within. People have a safe way to learn from mistakes and better prepare for unexpected events, without jeopardizing actual lives. This provides several benefits for Laerdal:

  • Increased immersion leads to stronger learning outcomes. Varjo’s mixed reality brings a new level of immersion for manikin training. The increased immersion produces deeper emotional engagement and retention, ultimately improving learning outcomes.
  • Better insights and personalized recommendations with more data. Everything the trainees do can be tracked and measured. With the massive increase in trainee data, entirely new levels of analysis are unlocked. This provides possibilities for customizing and personalizing recommendations for each student individually, allowing them to be trained even more efficiently based on their specific needs in future exercises.
  • Time and cost savings. The need for being physically co-located is removed, allowing for time and cost savings, while still ensuring seamless cooperation and shared understanding as all participants experience the exact same scenario together in real-time.

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