New VR training for NSW emergency departments

A new training program utilising virtual reality (VR) technologies will be rolled out across emergency departments in New South Wales, offering nurses and medical staff real-time experience to improve stroke care.

The TACTICS VR stroke training program is a collaboration between the Agency for Clinical Innovation and the University of Newcastle Centre for Advanced Training Systems.

University of Newcastle professor Rohan Walker confirmed that the VR nurse training follows Telestroke training already produced using the TACTICS VR platform.

NSW Health Minister, Ryan Park, who launched the program, said the technology would serve to significantly improve outcomes for stroke treatments, which are viewed as time-critical medical emergencies.

“Fast response and treatment of stroke is vital to saving lives and improving recovery. By simulating a real-time scenario, this training will give emergency nurses practice in how to handle those first critical minutes.

He added: “A total of 27 VR headsets have been distributed to regional, rural and metropolitan hospitals, with a focus on smaller hospitals where staff may have limited exposure to stroke presentations.”

The program will be rolled out across 27 hospitals in NSW, with a demonstration of the immersive training at Royal North Shore Hospital.

The stroke VR nurse training program will run in all regional local health districts, including the following hospitals: Tweed, Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Moree, Armidale, Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Manning, Dubbo, Broken Hill, Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow, Blue Mountains, Goulburn, Cooma, Shoalhaven, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Deniliquin, Moruya and South East Regional Hospital (SERH).

It will also run in the Sydney, Northern Sydney and South Eastern Sydney local health districts, at the Royal Prince Alfred, Prince of Wales, St Vincent’s and Royal North Shore hospitals.

“VR training gives patients and nurses access to best-practice stroke care, especially in regional areas where a local hospital does not receive the same volume of stroke patients as its city counterparts,” NSW Health deputy secretary, clinical innovation and research, and chief executive of the Agency for Clinical Innovation, Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque, said.

“This new training program complements the successful NSW Telestroke Service, which uses video consultation to provide people living in rural and regional NSW with rapid access to specialist stroke diagnoses and treatment.

Levesque added: “Telestroke is now operating in 23 hospitals across the state.”