Surgery simulator app: an interview with Jean Nehme

insights from industryDr. Jean NehmePlastic Surgeon, CEO and co-founder of Touch Surgery

Can you please give a brief introduction to Touch Surgery? Who is the app aimed at?

Touch Surgery is a mobile surgical simulation app that allows surgeons to learn and rehearse surgical procedures. It provides a cognitive map for operations on a virtual patient.

Touch Surgery is working with expert surgeons worldwide from institutions such as, Stanford University, Duke University and Imperial College.

The app is aimed primarily at surgeons and is being used to learn new techniques and procedures as well as for rehearsal just before an operation.

Are patients also using this app to understand the procedures they are going to undertake?

We have found approximately 40% of downloads come from patients wanting to learn about surgery. Patients have informed us that they have used the app before surgery to be better prepared.

Please can you outline the surgical mantra Touch Surgery is built upon: “the decision comes before the incision”?

The mantra decision before incision comes from a real need to make the right decision before the action, all great surgeons will agree that decision-making is key to a great operation.

In the literature decision-making is often regarded as comprising 75% of an operation whereas technical ability makes up the other 25%.

What sparked the idea to build a surgery simulator app?

As surgeons we experienced first-hand a real need for an accessible tool that would allow us to better learn and rehearse surgical procedures before attempting the real thing in the operating room.

Being surgeons who had a deep interest in technology and code we set about developing Touch Surgery.

How did you develop the medical content for the app?

The medical content for the app is developed with leading expert surgeons globally from institutions such as Stanford University, Duke University, Imperial College and the University of Toronto.

We use a proprietary tool to capture surgical information and convert this into simulated modules on the app.

How many types of operation are currently featured on Touch Surgery and do you have plans to add more?

There are over 40 procedures on the app for specialities including, plastic surgery, orthopaedics, general surgery and neurosurgery.

Over the next year we will be adding over 150 procedures to the Touch Surgery library.

Which platforms is Touch Surgery currently available on and is it free to download?

Touch Surgery is available on the apple store and android devices. We have also recently beta launched a version on Google Glass and Oculus Rift.

How is Touch Surgery funded?

Touch Surgery has been privately funded.

What feedback have you had on the app and how does Touch Surgery compare to other apps on the market?

We receive international feedback from users including surgeons, patients and nurses. The support has been overwhelming and surgeons wanting to have an impact on surgical training have given us great ideas for improvement.

What impact do you hope the app will have on surgery and patient safety?

At Touch Surgery Labs the team is unified on making a real improvement in patient outcomes and safety. We feel that by providing a cognitive interactive surgical map, the decision part of the learning curve can be learned outside the operating room in a safe environment.

Furthermore, by deploying this on an accessible mobile platform it better facilitates the dissemination of best practice.

This allows surgeons to be aware of the newest procedures and best practices. It also allows better learning and rehearsal. This we hope will translate into better patient outcomes and safety.

We are currently supporting our surgical institutions to evaluate these hypotheses with multicentre academic studies.

In what ways are you looking to develop the app further?

Over the next year we are partnering with multiple leading institutions globally to develop more surgical content and integrate into surgical programs and process. We will be releasing more and more operations this year.

Furthermore, as we build out our core technology and combine our platform with machine learning and artificial intelligence, there will be a whole lot more coming from the Lab.

Do you have any plans to bring out a veterinary surgical app?

We have been approached by various individuals from the veterinary profession. Although, this isn’t in our immediate pipeline- it is not an opportunity we have ruled out.

Where can readers find more information and download the app?

Readers are welcome to access the Touch Surgery website and blog for more information. The address is www.touchsurgery.com , any questions and feedback is also welcome at [email protected]

The app is free to download on the app store and the android store – just search Touch Surgery.

About Jean Nehme

Jean Nehme is a plastic surgeon, CEO and co-founder of Touch Surgery. Having completed his undergraduate medical training in London he embarked on a career in academia and surgery where firsthand he experienced the limitations of surgical practice.

During his surgical training he undertook a part-time Masters in Surgical Technology at Imperial College London. His work awarded him a distinction, academic papers, awards and presentations at a multitude of international meetings.

His research at Imperial included the application of virtual reality simulation to surgery and robotics. This was a natural marriage of his greatest passions- technology and healthcare, driven by a desire to build globally scalable solutions.  

After completing a degree Jean Nehme was awarded a numbered training post in Plastic Surgery in London. Meanwhile he was building technology with Andre Chow, a fellow surgeon and friend, that was to become Touch Surgery.

Realizing the potential of a scalable technology to have a widespread impact on surgical training and ultimately patient outcomes Jean co-founded Touch Surgery with Andre.

April Cashin-Garbutt

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April Cashin-Garbutt

April graduated with a first-class honours degree in Natural Sciences from Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. During her time as Editor-in-Chief, News-Medical (2012-2017), she kickstarted the content production process and helped to grow the website readership to over 60 million visitors per year. Through interviewing global thought leaders in medicine and life sciences, including Nobel laureates, April developed a passion for neuroscience and now works at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, located within UCL.

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