Teaching Surgery with an App?
A Look at Touch Surgery

Health Tech | Shiv Galani

We are well beyond the point of having apps surprise us with their functionality, so it was no surprise to me when I first heard about Touch Surgery. The app has a library of 3D models that enable you to learn and practice various surgical techniques. It’s been incredibly well received, with more than 1,800 reviews on the app store and well over 90% of them giving it 5 out of 5 stars. One telling review reads as follows: “I am a general surgery resident and I just finished the hernia module. There is no other training tool like [Touch Surgery]. Step by step instructions and quizzes with amazing graphics. Especially helpful for open surgeries as there are not simulators and few good videos to learn from prior to heading to the OR.”

For this month’s Health Tech, I had the opportunity to interview Touch Surgery’s co-founder, Andrew Chow, MD, and marketing lead, Andy Davis, about their platform.

What is Touch Surgery?
Currently there are 5 billion people around the world without access to safe surgical care, and common surgical pathologies account for over 30% of worldwide mortality. Our mission is to empower and connect the global surgical community with the aim of improving global health care. Touch Surgery is a mobile surgical platform that allows surgeons from around the world to learn, practice, and rehearse surgery through interactive surgical maps. Each map is created by surgical experts from around the world from places like Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Imperial College London, providing the highest quality surgical education to the global surgical community. Through improved education and the tools to allow pre-operative rehearsal and planning, we help surgeons to ready themselves to perform at their best in the operating room. 

How did you come up with the idea for Touch Surgery?
Being surgeons ourselves we addressed a real need that we faced every single day. There is a crisis in surgical training and education. Not enough surgeons are being trained to account for the immense need for surgical care around the world. Surgical training is still very much an apprenticeship-based system, and we believed that, using modern technology, we could create tools to impact that pathway, making it more effective and efficient.

What are the outcome measurements you are most interested in?
At the end of the day we will judge ourselves on how many surgeons we can help, and how many patients’ lives we can affect.

Do you have any specific tools for those involved in cardiology?
Although currently the platform has focused on surgery (including cardiac surgery), in the next year we also plan to include interventional cardiology procedures on the platform. This will include procedures such as angiography, angioplasty, aortic aneurysm stenting, and electrophysiology interventions.

Where do you see Touch Surgery in 1 year? In 5 years?
Ultimately we want to reach every surgical professional around the world, and make an impact on their practice. We’d love for this to happen in a year, but realistically it may take a bit longer!

Anything else you’d like to share?
As we previously mentioned, currently there are 5 billion people around the world without access to safe surgical care, and common surgical pathologies account for over 30% of worldwide mortality. To address this global problem, surgery as a profession will need to have a long hard look at the way that we train and educate the global surgical community. We believe that Touch Surgery can be part of this journey.

Keywords: CardioSource WorldNews, Surgeons, Global Health, Technology, Wireless Technology

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