Doctors Adopting a Virtual World


Virtual reality is becoming a reality in medicine, and at the University of Calgary in Canada, the worlds of computer science and health care are coming together in the form of a “virtual human.”  It’s a 3-D interactive computer model of the inside of the human body, a useful tool to teach medical students the ins and outs of human physiology.

UT Health Science’s McGovern Medical School benefits from the same forward-thinking approach to meeting the needs of today’s patients by applying the latest developments in cutting-edge technology.  Dr. Hilary Fairbrother, an associate professor at UT Health McGovern Medical School, and one of the directors of medical care education at the school, says much of today’s innovation originates with practicing physicians who envision areas of improvement in diagnosis and treatment. “We are looking at computers using clinical reasoning to try and diagnose humans,” she tells NewsRadio 740 KTRH. But she is seeing technology push forward into an area other than the doctors in Canada.  “Rather than trying to make a virtual human patient, there is a larger push to make a virtual robot doctor,” she says of the application of artificial intelligence in compiling differing factors related to a medical diagnosis.  “We’re looking at augmented reality or virtual reality technology and goggles so that we can better simulate critical scenarios for students and residents.”

One of the most important lessons medical students are taught, says Dr. Fairbrother, is that their chosen profession requires a lifelong commitment to continued learning.  As the health care profession stands at a precipice of deeper understanding of the human body’s most closely held secrets, these students, as practicing physicians in 20 or 30 years, will be applying life-saving technologies that haven’t even been developed yet.


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