Ethicon, Touch Surgery roll out app-based Virtual Residency Program

By Jonah Comstock
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Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon and Touch Surgery have launched a Virtual Residency Program for surgery students, a new use case for the simulated surgery app launched last fall. The program pre-launched in April and currently has 75 organizations enrolled.

"Ethicon is committed to supporting the continuing educational needs of residents and surgeons by providing access to innovative training programs that can help improve surgical outcomes and the standard of care patients receive," Diana Bacci-Walsh, VP North America education solutions at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, said in a statement. "The fact that we've seen so many resident programs in such a short time shows our customers are eager for this ground-breaking training platform and understand its potential value to enhance the surgical team's performance in the OR."

The iOS app takes users through a variety of more than 150 simulated surgical procedures. With realistic 3D rendering, the user can cut, stitch, implant and anything else required, with instructions popping up as they go. The idea is to increase surgical skills globally, especially in areas where access to surgical procedures is poor. For medical students in places even with robust medical schools and training, the app allows for them to practice a complicated surgery or get a preview of what a particular surgery will look like before they actually see it in person.

Ethicon explained to MobiHealthNews in an email that while the app is freely available to anyone, the Virtual Residency Program allows academic institutions to have private communities in the app. Program directors can track the performance of their residents; issue certificates of completion when residents demonstrate their knowledge of a procedure; and post tips, tricks, and video clips for their residents to review. 

That program is now available to any surgery center in the country that cares to sign up. The app was also recently updated with a cardiology speciality, an interventional cardiology subspecialty, and support for dental professionals and dental procedures.

"The Virtual Residency Program offers an engaging way for residents to learn the steps of procedures," Dr. James Lau, director of the Simulation Center at Stanford University, said in a statement. "Resident learning needs to be platform-based and asynchronous as we move forward. There is nothing else like this out there."