Raising the benchmark with simulator training
CEO of Haag-Streit Simulation, Markus Schill, talks to OT about the company’s rebrand and acquisition, and how COVID-19 has increased the need for simulator training
09 October 2021
What are the key focuses of Haag-Streit Simulation as a company?
Haag-Streit Simulation is a technology-driven company. However, over the last 20 years our team has acquired well-grounded expertise in teaching and training. Besides raising the benchmark with simulation technology, it’s an ambition to raise the standard of quality in healthcare that drives us. Our aim is to effectively extend the methods of medical training by exploiting the means of virtual reality technology.
What is the latest product you released, and why does it stand out from the crowd?
Our latest product is the Eyesi Slit Lamp Simulator, introduced in 2019. Leading edge simulation technology has been integrated into the hardware of the Haag-Streit slit lamp model BQ 900. The simulator offers all degrees of freedom of the original slit lamp and all slit lamp functions are simulated. Trainees can examine virtual patients with the biomicroscope, or fundoscopy lens. A gonioscopy module will be available by the end of 2021. The Eyesi Slit Lamp Simulator offers a highly realistic and immersive training experience that has not been available before for learning the handling of a slit lamp. The embedded simulator curriculum is complemented by preparatory online courses.
Haag-Streit Simulation in three facts
- Founded as a university start-up then-called VRmagic, the company introduced the Eyesi Surgical Simulator for intraocular surgery training to the market in 2001. It launched its product portfolio for optometry schools in 2009 with the Eyesi Indirect Ophthalmoscope Simulator, followed by the Eyesi Direct Simulator in 2013
- The Eyesi Slit Lamp Simulator was introduced in 2019, as a result of a technology cooperation with Haag-Streit Diagnostics. In 2020, VRmagic joined the Swiss Haag-Streit Group and has been rebranded to Haag-Streit Simulation
- Worldwide, more than 450 schools for ophthalmology, optometry and medical education use simulators from Haag-Streit Simulation in their training programmes.
Are there any new projects within optometry education in development that you can tell us about?The next simulator module will be the gonioscope module for Eyesi Slit Lamp, accompanied by corresponding online courses. We are currently exploring concepts of blended learning and the combination of theoretical courses and practical training on the simulator. This aligns well with the activities of our colleagues at Haag-Streit Academy.
Can you tell us about your recent acquisition and rebranding from VRmagic to Haag-Streit Simulation, part of the Haag-Streit Group? What has this meant for the company and what comes next?The acquisition followed a four-year-long successful technology collaboration on the development of the Eyesi Slit Lamp Simulator. During this project, it became apparent that people and expertise in the team complemented each other perfectly. Now, Haag-Streit Simulation is expanding the Haag-Streit portfolio for ophthalmology in the field of teaching and training. Collaboration in marketing and service will further enhance benefits for customers and partners. Last, but not least, being part of the Haag-Streit Group gives us the opportunity for new product developments on a wider scope.
Simulation offers the possibility that each optometry student can become familiar with the same wide scope of pathologies
How does Haag-Streit Simulation plan to collaborate within Haag-Streit Academy to enhance online education for optometrists?
Haag-Streit Academy is very successful with their training events on device handling and their online tutorials. In future, training on Eyesi simulators will complement the courses. We will also bundle our expertise in the development of new teaching formats and online courses. Haag-Streit Academy will become an even stronger resource for eye care professionals.
What role do you see technology such as simulation taking in the optometry profession going forwards, particularly in education and training?
Simulation offers the possibility that each optometry student can become familiar with the same wide scope of pathologies. We are convinced that the database of virtual patients contained in Eyesi simulators is an optimal way to acquire routine both in device handling and in pattern recognition and diagnoses. At the same time, the standardised curriculum and the computer-based performance evaluation provided by the simulator allow for objective assessment.
Who are they key adopters of this technology currently within the eye care profession? What levels of adoption are you seeing in optometry education and training currently and is this changing?
Training with Eyesi Surgical is well established in ophthalmology. In several countries, simulator training has already been integrated into educational guidelines and the assessment of trainees before they may enter the operating room. In optometry, major optometry schools in the US have embraced the technology and set up multi-simulator installations last year. The first European user of the Eyesi Slit Lamp is NHS Scotland, who reported an increased need for simulator training during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the company’s main ambitions for the next 12 months?
Besides the usual further development of product features and new products, we will intensify the cooperation within the Haag-Streit network in order to expand service on the ground for our customers during the next year.
What effect has COVID-19 had on Haag-Streit Simulation? How has the company responded?
Obviously, trade fairs and meeting with customers has not been possible for most of the last year. We have therefore started to offer live online demonstrations of our simulators. I'm sure this format will stay in the future. After an initial standstill, we have seen a significant increase in business. Since simulators offer contact-free and safe training possibilities, there is an increased interest in both simulator training and online learning. We also expect this trend to continue and will further expand our offering correspondingly.