How this Singapore hospital employs virtual reality to take learning beyond the classroom

By Ming En Liew

Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital has launched a virtual reality learning platform that allows healthcare professionals to gain hands-on experience outside the classroom.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s MyCare VR team has enabled virtual reality for staff training. Image: Tan Tock Seng Hospital

What would be the most efficient way to train a new healthcare staff on a medical procedure, such as the blood-taking process?


For healthcare professionals at Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), training days are no longer limited to the classroom, where theory and instruction can only take one so far when it comes to acquiring practical skills. 


Instead, staff going through training now have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience from anywhere, at any time – made possible through the lifelike environments of virtual reality technology. 


This is part of the hospital’s MyCare VR programme, which employs virtual reality, or VR, for staff training. MyCare VR was developed in collaboration with the Centre for Healthcare Innovation’s (CHI) Kaizen team, which was named after the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement.

Designing a virtual reality experience


MyCare VR’s first application comprised a scenario where staff at the hospital’s Specialist Outpatient Clinic could learn how to optimise the blood-taking process and reduce the time taken for each patient. 


To ensure that the scenario was as accurate as possible, the Kaizen team worked with the outpatient clinic’s team to create a virtual setting closely modelled after real-life circumstances. 


“Content development was done in deep collaboration with [the Specialist Outpatient Clinic]... to provide credible scenarios which learners can relate to,” explained Clinical Associate Professor Wong Hon Tym, Clinical Director at CHI, in an email interview with GovInsider.


Additionally, the programme had to be designed such that there was learner support and guidance around each module, to ensure that learners are able to navigate the VR environment without issue, Wong said.

Clinical Associate Professor Wong Hon Tym, Clinical Director at the Centre of Healthcare Innovation, testing out the VR training. Image: Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Said Tumadi bin Kasmany, a Technical Officer at TTSH, of his VR experience: “As a first-timer, the pre-tutorial helped me to become familiar and confident with the navigation using the controllers.” 


“I was able to explore and interact with objects in the clinic. The visuals were so crisp and the sound was so realistic that it felt like I was really there,” he added.


By using VR, staff are able to have an immersive, hands-on learning experience without putting patients at any risk. 


“Leveraging VR, I can apply the knowledge almost immediately in the simulated environment. Even when I do make mistakes, they don’t have real-life harmful repercussions to patients, other staff, or myself – hence ensuring psychological safety to learn without fear,” shared Mohammad Iqbal Firdaus Bin Mohammad Kamal, an Assistant Manager at TTSH’s Population Health Office. 

VR training may extend to caregivers


Since its launch at the start of this year, Wong shared that all the staff who have tried out the programme agreed that it helped them gain a better understanding of the 6S approach – a process improvement methodology TTSH adopts to drive efficiency. 


With the success of this programme, the hospital is now looking into using VR for training in medically-related tasks, counselling, surgical training and planning, and even caregiver training, Wong shared. 


Eventually, the hospital also plans to extend this technology and methodology to learners within the community, to enhance patient care beyond the four walls of the hospital. 


The Singapore Institute of Technology is also using VR to reshape education, GovInsider previously reported.

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