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Three principles for the progress of immersive technologies in healthcare training and education
  1. Ryan K Mathew1,2,
  2. The Immersive Healthcare Collaboration,
  3. Faisal Mushtaq3
    1. 1 School of Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
    2. 2 Department of Neurosurgery, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
    3. 3 School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
    1. Correspondence to Dr Ryan K Mathew, School of Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, Leeds, UK; r.k.mathew{at}

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    The challenge of providing training and education in healthcare has never been greater. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of methods that rely on master–apprentice models, face-to-face delivery and patient access. The emergence of a new generation of ‘immersive technologies’ (eg, augmented and virtual reality) presents an opportunity to overcome existing weaknesses and radically transform the healthcare education landscape.1

    While digital simulations have been available for decades, recent large-scale investments coupled with breakthroughs in low-cost computing and artificial intelligence make this feel like a watershed moment for immersive simulation technologies. Yet, improper implementation and poorly designed evaluation could risk future growth and place a considerable burden on the healthcare system. With this in mind, we recently brought together a collection of clinicians, researchers and industry under the banner of the ‘Immersive Healthcare Collaboration’. We sought to generate a set of guiding principles to maximise the utility of these technologies for training and education. The result of this cross-disciplinary effort is the creation of a report laying out three evidence-based principles for safe, efficient and effective progress for immersive technologies in healthcare training and education. To understand the rationale and evidence behind each principles, we refer readers to the full report.2 Here, we provide a summary to encourage the broader immersive healthcare community to implement in their own work and practice. We believe adoption of these principles will help realise the enormous potential of these technologies and in turn, benefit the healthcare community and ultimately, patient care.

    Principle 1: design and development should be driven by learning needs

    Numerous technological revolutions in education have failed to improve learning outcomes, with purchasing decisions too often ignoring the needs of learners. To maximise the potential of immersive technologies, we must answer a number of critical questions: (1) Which learning tool, immersive or otherwise, is best suited to achieve the learning outcome? …

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