Using VR to transform cancer education in Africa

15th March 2016
Nat Bowers


Using virtual reality technology, Vertual (a University of Hull-based company) is helping to transform the quality of cancer education in Africa.

Vertual provides virtual reality training systems for radiotherapy and has already revolutionised the way that clinicians are trained in England. Every radiographer in England now uses VERT throughout their training and systems are installed up and down the country. The unique software is now being used to train clinical teams in Africa as part of a new South African-based health initiative: Access to Care. This programme was developed in collaboration with Varian Oncology systems - a leading US-based manufacturer of cancer treatment technology - and two Cape Town universities.

VERT simulates a radiotherapy environment enabling clinicians to learn in a non-pressured, safe and cost-effective way. With detailed life-sized 3D images, VERT visualises patient anatomy and actual treatment plans simulating everything that radiation oncology treatment teams would do if they trained using the equipment in reality.

Having transformed radiotherapy training in England, Vertual is conquering the globe with 110 VERT installations around the world in 20 countries including the USA, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Now, in conjunction with University of Cape Town (UCT), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Groote Schuur Hospital, VERT is also being used to raise the level of radiotherapy in a variety of African countries through the training programme located in Cape Town, South Africa.

Andy Beavis, Co-Founder, Vertual, and Consultant Medical Physicist, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, commented: “Clinicians in Africa will be able to use our system to advance their knowledge and learn cutting-edge techniques, thereby helping to improve the quality of treatment that patients receive.”

“VERT brings to life everything you need to learn to deliver radiotherapy in a safe environment. We are proud that this technology developed in Hull is now helping to improve radiotherapy education across the globe,” added James Ward, Co-Founder, Vertual, and Computer Science Research Lecturer, University of Hull.

The Cape Town Access to Care team notes: “You only have to see the faces of the participants using VERT to understand the impact of this exciting, interactive learning environment. It puts essential radiotherapy theory into practice in a safe and fun way."

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