Online ventilator training tool speeds up return of medics to ICU

A new digital training tool from FundamentalVR, developed with Imperial College in London, is helping to prepare them to ventilate patients on the front line.
By Piers Ford
07:55 am

Credit: FundamentalVR

Returning and redeployed clinicians drafted to NHS ICUs during the COVID-19 pandemic are now able to get up to speed with ventilation skills by using a new online tool from FundamentalVR, which specialises in developing immersive simulations for training surgeons.

The tool will help hospitals to retain and boost their capacity at a time when resources are stretched by high patient numbers and clinical staff absence due to self-isolation and illness.

It combines video, graphic and textual content to provide medical professionals with essential knowledge during a three-module, 30-minute online session that takes them through the process of setting a patient up on a ventilator and dealing with typical complications that can arise while they are being ventilated under sedation.

The project has been developed with Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust, and led by Professor Ara Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, where it is being rolled-out before national and international deployment, including at the Nightingale hospitals that are now up and running across the UK.

FundamentalVR has also made its Fundamental Surgery platform, which gives surgeons a sensory experience, multi-user so that they can continue training or maintaining their skills even when in isolation, via the company’s interactive @HomeVR system.


With the NHS welcoming so many retired doctors and nurses back to frontline medicine during the COVID-19 outbreak – as well as redeploying clinicians to ICU from other disciplines – they are having to learn or refresh ventilation skills as quickly as possible. FundamentalVR can help to bring them up to date in half an hour.

“When COVID-19 struck, we were delighted to work with the team at Imperial College London on the rapid development of this important ventilator trainer and are pleased to see it roll-out to help build confidence and competence with healthcare professionals at this challenging time,” said Richard Vincent, CEO and co-founder of Fundamental VR.

“We are in awe of the NHS teams and all that they do and are honoured to have played a small part in the solution.”


At the same time, many medical students are feeling the impact of interrupted studies while their training hospitals focus on essential care, while qualified surgeons face the challenge of maintaining their skills in a period of non-urgent surgery cancellation.

FundamentalVR’s @HomeVR system allows medical students, clinicians and tutors to interact in a virtual operating room, ask questions, view each other’s procedures and share feedback, with the benefit of the Fundamental Surgery virtual reality platform.

This means they can experience the same sights, sounds and feelings that they would in a real procedure – enabling them to develop their skills in a safe, measurable environment that complements their learning in the physical operating room.


“It takes years to specialize a clinician in intensive care,” said Professor Ara Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College. “While this new training course is not designed to replace this expertise, it will enable health systems across the world to act now and provide the care that their patients desperately need.

“With greater capacity, we can help more people survive the illness, and prevent health systems from becoming overwhelmed during this crisis.”


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