Over the past two weeks I attended several medical conventions as an exhibitor.
First was a meeting for laparoscopic surgeons. Last week was a combined meeting of surgical program directors and coordinators, held in Toronto. The unique aspect of the exhibits at this meeting were the uses of multimedia technology aimed at surgical education.
First, of course, the Cine-Med display featured our latest books and our online video libraries, and a demo of our forthcoming Multimedia Atlas of Surgery. At this meeting, the most popular items were the books. Particularly a book about improving communication techniques for surgeons. The ACGME has mandated that surgical education serve one or more of six core competencies, including communication and professionalism. This book covers these two competencies. Click here if you want to see more:
Other interesting displays included virtual reality for surgical skills training. Cine-Med incidentally was one of the pioneers in medical VR, back in the early to mid 1990s. Our simulations required SGI computers costing more than your average family SUV of today. One memorable experience had me at a pay phone at the Atlanta Convention Center talking to our engineer, writing UNIX commands on the back of a cocktail napkin, then running back to our booth, climbing inside the wooden enclosure, typing the commands into the UNIX shell, jiggling some wires and then repeating until things were working. Cell phones in 1995 were not quite something your average person carried around, so payphones and running shoes fit the bill.
Today obviously the simulations run off laptops or similarly equipped desktop computers, sometimes cleverly hidden inside streamlined plastic enclosures. Input devices take the shape of actual or simulated surgical instruments, attached to any number of sensors, force feedback mechanisms or simply viewed with a video camera, as in actual surgery
Perhaps the most impressive use of multimedia and computers is the virtual patient simulator, known as Stan, seen in the lower left. This 200 pound android, developed for the military, has all the vital signs of a real person. You can listen to his breathing and heartbeat with a stethoscope, listen to bowel sounds, feel for a pulse in the neck and wrist, intubate his airway and even administer drugs and fluids. Wirelessly controlled by a Mac, and attached to a DVR with 5000 hours of recording time, the setup is used to train medical students in dealing with a variety of medical scenarios, and then review the exercises in real time. Very cool.
As usual, I spent my off hours exploring the city and seeking out new dining experiences. Unfortuantely I was also dealing with either Spring allergies, a head cold, or both. The first night I went to the Pickle Barrel, an odd restaurant serving deli food, Asian dishes, steaks and everything in between. The next night, exhausted from 8+ hours of standing and sneezing and coughing, I ate at the supposedly well regarded Chinese Dim Sum restaurant at my hotel, Lai Wah Heen. The Duck soup was very good, the roasted walnut beef dish was ok except for the walnuts and the beef, and the service was extremely slow. However watching the parade of roasted ducks (beaks included) and other unique presentations passed the time. The final night I went to the Irish Embassy Pub for a much deserved Irish Stew and a pint of Guiness. You can't go wrong with this combination. Finally Friday's events included a complimentary sit-down lunch at the hotel, then a quick break down and load out, cab to the airport, US customs while still in Canada (?) and an earlier flight back to New York for a drive home.
Thanks for reading.