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Dynamic business spoke with Vantari VR co-founders and co-directors Dr Vijay Paul and Nishanth Krishnananthan about how doctors and students across Australia use their virtual reality platform to learn from immersive simulations that mimic real-life medical procedures.
Since 2017, the Vantari team has had the mission of improving the offer of training and health education through virtual reality (VR). The technology is used by clinicians to help train minor doctors in life-saving procedures at major national hospitals, including Royal Prince Alfred, Westmead, Nepean and Fiona Stanley.
“Vantari is a disruptor in the educational space, which enhances traditional training modalities, such as corpses, mannequins, online modules and videos, which have their own limitations when it comes to teaching,” he said. Dr. Vijay Paul. Dynamic business.
“There is also emerging evidence that reduces medical error compared to traditional modalities, which has huge implications for the human cost and economic cost to health. We are testing the future of education and training, and Vantari is currently the bridge between never having done any procedure and finally doing it with a real patient ”.
The Vantari VR platform benefits both physicians and students, as it gives them the opportunity to refine critical procedures in a safe and scalable manner, while ensuring that training is accessible, repeatable and scalable.
“There is an effective effect in achieving faster mastery as well as a reduction in the user’s medical error in providing care to a patient,” Dr. Krishnananthan said. Dynamic business.
“There are also economic health benefits, ranging from operational savings, such as resource utilization to decreased length of stay, as a result of reduced patient complications by procedures. “.
The story behind Vantari VR
Vantari VR was founded in 2017 by Vijay Paul and Nishanth Krishnananthan, two doctors who have more than 10 years of clinical experience each and who share common interests in health and technology.
“Nish and I met on the first day of our internship at Bankstown and Campbelltown Hospital. We interacted during many night shifts, often being the only two doctors in the hospital wards, ”says Dr. Paul.
“We soon found that we had a great working relationship and we were able to deal with difficult situations well. This foundation also translated into our personal lives, where we had many common interests, including technology. ”
Vantari’s third co-founder and current technology director, Daniel Paull, brings more than 20 years of technical experience to the company working with 3D systems, virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Collectively, the team has a wealth of talent, from doctors and software programmers to 3D modelers from Marvel and Disney.
“Given the many years of clinical experience, we noticed a wide variety of health issues that could benefit from emerging technology such as virtual reality. We had the ambition to impact and improve healthcare in general, rather than one patient at a time as clinicians, ”says Dr. Krishnananthan.
“We have spoken to more than 150 doctors, health stakeholders and students to make sure our idea and technology is worth building. There was an overwhelming demand: from patient education to surgical planning to medical training. We knew from these conversations that there was not only the appetite of customers, but also a mature market for disruption. “
How does Vantari VR work?
Vantari VR is a virtual reality software as a service (SaaS) platform that provides procedural training for medicine and surgery through a computer-powered VR headset.
“Once it appears in our headset, you see a photorealistic environment like an operating room with a hospital bed, precision-modeled medical equipment and a virtual patient in various positions according to the procedure,” says Dr. Krishnananthan.
“It is completely immersive with a visual field and a 360 degree sound, and you can interact with the team and the patient to perform the procedure. Feel several steps, such as injecting anesthetics or making an incision through haptics by vibrating the controllers in your hands. “
VR technology integrates data analysis, AI-based statistics, and performance tracking to inform users about progress and help improve results.
“You can perform the procedure from start to finish according to the guidelines of the university. At the end, you can log in to our learning management system to see the performance you have had, as well as your performance compared to your peers. and, most importantly, with university recommendations, ”says Dr. Paul.
The Vantari VR platform covers 90% of the procedures that are part of basic doctor training, including the training of junior doctors, emergency medicine, intensive care and anesthetics.
“Vantari is currently growing and continues to build an ecosystem of VR medical procedures based on customer demand, while being marketed as a B2B SAAS business in hospitals, universities and medical device companies,” says Dr. Krishnananthan .
“We are able to apply our technology to various specialties such as cardiology or pediatric medicine or even allied nursing and health. In the future, we believe that optics will mature to a point where touch and fine movements can be replicated in the virtual environment, opening up the opportunity to teach a multitude of technically complex and sophisticated surgeries ”.
From launch to the recipient of Epic Games ’Mega Grant
Vantari’s team has faced several common challenges for emerging companies and SMEs, especially those operating in the health areas, which Dr Paul says they have less support than other areas “in part because the healthcare technology is a long arc of development and implementation. ”
“Healthcare is slowly adapting to new technologies and this is more pronounced in Australia. Add virtual reality, which in itself is a relatively new technology. That meant people doubted its potential in medicine, ”says Dr. Paul.
Vantari VR entered the market with two accelerators: NSW Health and Cicada Innovation in 2017 and the HCF Catalyst program in 2018. The company also won the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) grant in 2018 and the Accelerating Commercialization (AC) grant in 2019.
“We believe that grants are an excellent way to help both in the initial stages of your business, and during the scale, while being exposed in parallel. We are still looking for bigger grants here in Australia that collaborate with university bodies or other organizations, as well as international grants to drive pilot collaborations abroad, ”says Dr Krishnananthan.
“Because we are in the space of health technologies, the National Council for Health and Medical Research and the Medical Devices Fund (NHMRC) are possibilities for us, although we face a greater challenge in the evaluation process, as it is not considered a pharmaceutical. The situation is improving, however, as digital health is slowly being understood. ”
In 2020, Vantari VR received a $ 131,000 grant from US video game developer giant Epic Games, the creators of the successful online game Fortnite, as part of its Epic MegaGrants program.
“Epic MegaGrants funding is life-changing, not just for us, but for all future physicians whose training will now be developed and monitored quickly and for the thousands of life-saving patients saved by the drastic reduction of medical error, ”says Dr. Krishnananthan.
“Vantari VR is a business run by doctors, instead of being a technology company trying to enter the medical space, which gives us a considerable advantage when it comes to getting where we need to go with the platform. The grant gives us confidence that we are on the right track and that the momentum is very big. “
The future of healthcare
Drs Krishnananthan and Paul predict that technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and robotics, will have a strong impact on the way medical training and patient care are provided.
“We have a global vision to eliminate medical errors and save the lives of patients. We believe that Vantari VR will be a global company with a footprint on every continent and that it will help various specialties and fields of medicine, from doctors to nurses, to students and other health professionals, ”says Dr. Paul.
“We are planning to build an ecosystem of connected procedures and the goal is to have it integrated into international university curricula. Vantari VR will be a place of innovation, with a team working on high-impact applications for health, saving lives and driving the wave towards a unicorn of digital healthcare technology ”.
Despite the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, the Vantari team uses the time to focus on accelerating conversations around future-proof education, showcasing its offerings, and expanding its team. and technology.
“Doctors and students have struggled to use traditional resources due to restrictions on social distancing, as well as the spending of older people on health activity facing COVID, which means training has had a huge impact since from simulation centers to daily training at hospitals and universities, Vantari solves this for health, ”says Dr. Paul.
Vantari VR is open to pilot collaborations in the APAC and US regions and the team’s goal is to secure funding of A $ 2 million as part of its current capital raising.
Read more: What you need to know about raising capital
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