Meet the innovators changing global surgical training

  • Caroline Purslow

    Caroline Purslow

    Senior Programme Manager, Global Health Team

    View profile

28 Jan 2021

Announcing the 10 recipients of the Global Surgical Training Challenge Discovery Award grants

A global pandemic that has tested the capacity of health care systems worldwide did not stop over 250 innovators from exploring ways to improve surgical training in low and middle income countries. As part of the Global Surgical Training Challenge, participants last fall joined in a series of Solveathons, hosted by MIT Solve.  

Out of 41 applications, ten teams have won Discovery Award grants of up to $200,000. The announcement was made during a virtual awards ceremony on 28 January. The recipients submitted projects that span across a variety of specialties, including orthopedics, pediatric, cardiothoracic, gynecological and trauma surgery. The projects include simulation models and mechanisms of self-assessment.

Recipients of the Discovery Awards

The team is designing a model for training surgeons and medical officers with no formal training in pediatric surgery to teach them to perform a safe colostomy on a newborn. The tool is designed to teach gentle tissue handling skills. Research shows that over half of surgical complications in newborns are caused by excessive use of force during the procedure.

These skills can be transferred to other life-saving surgeries. By training surgeons in these gentle procedures, it can bring quality surgical care to the estimated one billion infants and children globally who currently lack safe, timely and affordable interventions.

The team will use their award to validate that there is a low cost model to assist in training and self-assessment.

OpenSurgiSim is a surgical training module for orthopaedic surgeons to learn accurate correction of bone deformities.

The process of this collaboration has brought together experts in clinical care and engineering, furthering the idea, according to Mr. Karade.

CrashSavers Trauma is designing a model for the prehospital setting to teach bleeding control techniques. Their project involves the development of a Web-based and mobile app that is integrated with a low cost physical model to train users in hemorrhage control. This will teach health care providers methods to stop bleeding before a patient arrives at the hospital.

This training module will teach orthopaedic surgeons and medical officers on how to handle this common fracture. The Discovery Award will help the team assess how their 3-D bone simulation model can provide orthopaedic training.

Team Operation Smile is designing a surgical training model to teach surgeons how to restore form, function and feeling through local flap surgery from wounds and defects due to burns, trauma, cancer and congenital conditions.

The team plans to implement a unique mixed methods approach to surgical training that will use a simulation platform that will incorporate virtual learning modules and simulations with a low cos, adaptable psychomotor training system.

Team ETALO (Education To Advance Limb-Saving Options for Open Fractures and Osteomyelitis) is designing a surgical training model for general surgeons, medical officers and other non-orthopedic practitioners to develop their skills to help drill bone and to place fixation pins to stabilize fractures. The Discovery Award will allow the team to develop a simulator designed to teach psychomotor skills for these procedures.

Team SELF-Training (Set Every Little-heart Free by Training) is designing a training module for general surgeons and trainees to learn to repair simple congenital heart defects, such as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). With the Discovery Award, the team will design a hyper realistic, tissue-like physical model with built-in sensors paired with augmented reality. A mobile app will complement the module with educational materials and virtual mentorship.

The platform can safely and reliably develop the necessary skills to provide care to thousands of children who would otherwise go without.

Team IntelliVision is developing a training module for surgical residents and surgeons to learn to perform laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

Dr. Makam expects that when they are able to deliver this surgical training module, surgeons will be able to reduce pain and bleeding, as well as a quicker recovery, in patients through the use of laparoscopic techniques.

Team ASAP (AMPATH Surgical App) is designing a surgical module that provides a surgical training module to train clinicians who are expected to perform open appendectomies in primary and secondary health facilities throughout the world.

The Discovery Award will allow the team to develop a mobile application that will guide the learner through the evaluation and management of lower right quadrant pain, indicative of appendicitis. Using mobile technology the learner will be able to apply these skills immediately, or ASAP (as soon as possible).

The Global Surgical Training Challenge is a collaboration among Nesta Challenges, MIT Solve, the Appropedia Foundation, and Intuitive Foundation. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is providing mentorship and coaching to the teams through a collaboration that was announced at the event.

The Challenge aims to enhance training for surgical practitioners in resource-constrained settings through the creation of innovative new surgical training modules that can be used to teach and assess skills acquisition. Modules created as part of the Challenge will be freely available for download from the Appropredia platform and will be packaged with know-how to build the model and to train and assess psycho-motor skills acquisition.

Over the next several months the Discovery Award recipients will further develop, validate and prototype their projects, under the mentorship of RCSI. The mentorship programme will include regular sessions with mentorship managers and subject matter experts as well as master classes and other tools. Topics will range from technical elements such as simulation technology and e-learning methodologies to soft skills coaching in project management and leadership development. 

The next phase of the Challenge will be the Finalist award of $500,000, to be announced at the end of this year. Finalists will be eligible to apply for the Grand Prize of one million dollars in 2022.

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