MMVR 17 proceedings: fighting health care delivery system imbalances with broad access to latest technologies

Amsterdam 30 December 2009The conference proceedings of the seventeenth edition of the annual "Medicine Meets Virtual Reality" (MMVR) event, held January 19-22, 2009 in Long Beach, California, have been published as the 142th volume in the series dedicated to Studies in Health Technology and Informatics by IOS Press in Amsterdam. This MMVR 2009 edition includes 109 eminent contributions to the conference theme "NextMed: Design for/the Well Being".

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In a concise preface, MMVR conference organizer James D. Westwood from Aligned Management Associates Inc. expresses his worries about the sustainability of the health care system. The ubiquitous fee-for-service model in the United States is indirectly generating severe imbalances in health care. Because of this system health care staff is being encouraged to execute more - not always necessary - procedures. Hence, insurance payers tend to reduce their per-procedure reimbursement - amounting in a still higher quantity of procedures to maintain the financial equilibrium - and to increase the premiums causing many people to step out of the system that becomes unaffordable for them and to leave the richer patients who remain insured with ever increasing premiums.

The largest benefits in this type of health care delivery system are constantly being reaped by administrators with limited medical expertise. It are they who decide to design and adopt medical technology that is cheaper and more efficient, thus reducing the time a physician is able to spend with his patients - for better or for worse, as stated by James D. Westwood. In this way, the health care system might be heading for a similar crisis as we witness today in the financial industry.

On a global scale James D. Westwood is pointing out two trends that are challenging health care delivery across the world. First the development of an omnipresent sensor and data network that will record everything we say or do by 2030. This will have a tremendous impact on health care in which every single individual will become a subject in a hopefully more intelligent and efficient universal clinical trial, blurring the distinction between experimentation and personalized care but at the same time causing an easy imaginable threat for medical privacy. Second the global access to electricity which is challenging the developing countries. The lack of a physical power grid might be compensated by cell phones, solar-powered Internet terminals and Cloud computing to allow people who have less to pay, having access to future intelligent health care technology.

One of the papers in the MMVR17 proceedings is dealing with this issue by addressing low cost ultrasound imaging training for use in developing countries and thereby introducing interface components from a Nintendo Wii games console. Another study is directly targeted at female patients by learning them how to perform a clinical pelvic examination using a manikin-based trainer. A Swedish contribution reports on the retention of knowledge after repeated Virtual World team training of cardiopulmonary resuscitation by high school students. A German study presents the results of visual impairment simulation to detect hospital way-finding difficulties which elder population might be confronted with. Four papers are dedicated to videolaryngoscopy for intubation skills training by first responders, novice military health care providers and medical transport helicopter personnel.

Other medical virtual reality research is ranging from the development of collaborative virtual environments for ICU and pre-operative planning, surgical robots for a variety of interventions and training simulators - covered by 23 papers - for dental surgery, laparoscopy, needle biopsy, ophthalmology, over soft tissue modelling, advanced imaging and visualization to rehabilitation, and virtual reality applied to psychological disorders. Surgery simulators have conquered the whole spectrum of medical specialism as proven by no less that 16 contributions. In addition, robotic telepresence, computer-assisted surgery and collaborative environments are gaining in popularity among medical staff, responding to an ever growing need for interactive examination, joint surgical simulation, and remote medical intervention, as shown in 20 papers.

The art of modelling in turn requires the development of fine-tuned algorithms and careful finite element modelling to achieve the desired effects. Twelve MMVR participating author teams provide a clear explanation of their attempts to apply tissue engineering and design adequate anatomy models. The realistic visualization of organs inside the human body represents a world of its own. Different techniques such as stereoscopic display, ultrasound and terahertz imaging, and augmented reality applications are passing in revue in 16 studies applied to dental, ENT and craniomaxillofacial surgery but also to radiology and minimally invasive endoscopic surgery.

The assessment, validation, evaluation, and evolution trends towards improvement in development of surgical robots and training simulators is being addressed in 14 contributions. The MMVR 2009 proceedings include 46 papers from the United States, as well as 27 European contributions, 15 studies conducted in Asia, 7 in Canada, and 3 in Latin America. Eleven papers have been delivered by transinternational and even transcontinental teams of authors.

  • Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 17 - NextMed: Design for/the Well Being
  • Edited by James D. Westwood, Susan W. Westwood, Randy S. Haluck, Helene M. Hoffman, Greg T. Mogel, Roger Phillips, Richard A. Robb, and Kirby G. Vosburgh
  • Published by IOS Press - Amsterdam/Berlin/Oxford/Tokyo/Washington, DC
  • 2008 - 477 p.
  • ISBN 978-1-58603-964-6
  • Available from Paul Gijsbers at IOS Press - Nieuwe Hemweg 6B - 1013 BG Amsterdam - The Netherlands
    Phone: +31-20-688-3355 - Fax: +31-20-687-0019 - E-mail: order@iospress.nl


Leslie Versweyveld

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