INCISION Academy is at the forefront of providing an innovative digital eLearning experience for surgeons around the world to help them improve their knowledge and skills in the operating room.

Based in the Netherlands, the 2D and 3D video eLearning platform allows medical students and surgeons to improve their surgical skills through practical, step-by-step video clips of how to carry out a growing number of surgical procedures, such as appendectomy, laryngectomy and hysterectomy.

During a recent visit to South Africa as part of the House of the Future event, CEO of INCISION Academy, Dr Erik-Jan Vlieger, sat down with eHealthNews to discuss his company’s vision of helping to develop surgeons’ capabilities through the use of their high quality video knowledge portal.

According to Vlieger, INCISION Academy was created to take the knowledge transfer of surgical procedures out of the one-on-one theatre environment into one that’s more scalable. “Of course you still need to practice, so skills development still needs to happen in the OR, but we’ve calculated that if you redesign your training curriculum with our new model, you can train roughly 30% more residents with the same capacity, which is great for countries like South Africa where there’s a lack of service and surgeons,” said Vlieger.

“SA’s district hospitals are largely run by GPs who have just finished their training but who are required to perform a lot of surgeries, many of which they haven’t even been trained for. So having a good knowledge source, such as INCISION Academy, could help them become better surgeons,” continued Vlieger.

Vlieger also noted that INCISION Academy could be used by surgeons as part of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme for their continual education. “INCISOIN Academy is time and place independent, so surgeons now have a way of doing CPD without costing capacity,” said Vlieger.

Vlieger added that a third use for INCISION Academy is a reference guide for trained surgeons preparing for surgery the following day. “We are offering one comprehensive source about everything that they need to know to do the surgery,” said Vlieger.

INCISION Academy surgical videos are developed to showcase a series of events consisting of a number of sub-steps to help surgeons reach their goal, such as reach their target organ or clear an area of adhesions. “The first thing we do is we try to find out if there’s medical literature describing a procedure in steps and sub-steps, if there’s none then we create it,” said Vlieger. “We then go to an experienced surgeon and show him what we did, ask for their comments and then film that experienced surgeon performing the surgery.”

While most of the surgeries are up to three hours, INCISION Academy edits them down to a maximum of 20 minutes. “We use a meticulously described step-by-step approach. We know exactly where the important things happen in a surgery, and we make sure that our movies show all the important steps so that when you watch these 20 minutes you know exactly what to do for the next three hours during the surgery,” said Vlieger.

INCISION Academy is not even a year old but they have already developed a good reputation from the pilots that they have been involved in.” We recently finished a pilot project in Indonesia where our videos were used to train gynaecology residents. It was very rewarding because they really enjoyed the product and it was evident that their knowledge significantly increased,” said Vlieger.

In the Netherlands, the bowel surgery videos are currently being used to train residents who are at the end of their training periods and are specialising in bowel surgery. However, for the product to be completely integrated into the curriculum they need to finish complete portfolios.

“In January 2016 we aim to finish our general surgery portfolio and the large bowel surgeries portfolio, so then it’ll be really usable in the teaching environment,” said Vlieger. “Then we’ll continue finishing up the gynaecology obstetrics portfolio and then other specialties will follow.”

While INCISION Academy already has a growing footprint in Kenya and Ghana, they plan to start collaborating with the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) to incorporate INCISION Academy’s videos into the curriculum. They also plan to create more localised content to take into account, for example, patients in developing countries who only seek medical treatment once their condition is critical. “Each scenario requires completely different surgeries, we want to create local content and offer it to the world,” concluded Vlieger.

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