NYC Health + Hospitals is rolling out virtual reality technology to help train obstetricians and reduce the rate of maternal mortality events, the health system and New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday.
The health system, which covers 11 acute hospitals and multiple clinics across the city, said it has developed the VR solution in tandem with Health Scholars, a Westminster, Colorado-based company. The technology will allow providers to experience simulated maternal mortality scenarios lasting 8-to-12 minutes through a VR headset.
Using the technology, the clinician will guide a virtual team to perform all appropriate tasks during the maternal mortality scenario based on their hospital’s protocols. The aim is to hone communication, teamwork, critical thinking and decision-making skills during an emergency.
The public health system has invested in 22 VR headsets, two for each hospital. Obstetrics providers will be able to check them out to complete their training when time permits during shifts.
“Virtual reality can really increase our capacity in training,” said Dr. Wendy Wilcox, NYC Health + Hospitals’ chief women’s health service officer. “If you can get a realistic training course into the hands of the provider that they can access whenever they want, it can be cost effective.”
Wilcox said current training simulation methods are time-consuming because they require onsite visits and advance scheduling, which can be hard to do with the uncertain cadence of labor and delivery. She said it often takes a year to train clinicians on various scenarios related to maternal mortality.
“We want to put more providers through the training courses and give them more courses to go through,” Wilcox said. “We want to make simulation a normal part of what we do and improve knowledge on how to deal with what should be these never events.”
Wilcox said the platform can be tailored based on specific providers, whether it’s a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, midwife or resident. It also includes reports on how a clinician has performed during the simulation.
“Right now, everything is manual,” Wilcox said. “You need an observer and a recorder for each person undergoing the simulation to try to measure and assess their response and how they’re doing. With VR, it records actions and maneuvers [from the clinicians]. And then we can measure success and how much people are learning.”