Even as the use of surgical robots continues to rise, there is still a lack of global standardization for training in robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) and globally accepted accreditation. This lack of standardization is of particular concern to Professor Dr. Alexandre Mottrie. Dr. Mottrie is the Head of Urology at OLV Hospital in Aalst, Belgium, and founder of Orsi Academy, a global robotics training center specializing in the safe and effective innovation and adaptation of new technologies in medical practice.
As a pioneer in surgical robotics, Dr. Mottrie was one of the first urological surgeons to use a robot. Over the past 20 years, he has performed more than 4,000 robotic surgeries and has traveled the world teaching, training, and proctoring, all while maintaining his own surgical practice.
So how do we get there?
Establishing a path to training standardization takes time, commitment, and effort. But it’s an effort worth making. And knowing where we need to go starts by understanding where we are today.
–Prof. Dr. Alexandre Mottrie, Founder and CEO, Orsi Academy
We’ve reached a unique inflection point. Surgical technology and robotics continue to advance, while the infrastructure to support medical training and education remains rooted in tradition. This has led the robotics industry to fill the gaps with training sessions and skills courses that focus largely on the technology.
While this type of training helps surgeons learn how to use the robot, the procedural side of training is often left to the surgeons’ own devices. Guiding surgeons out of their learning curve and onto a well-defined path to procedural success is one of the key reasons training standardization is so important.
“Compare medicine with aviation,” says Mottrie, “where pilots-in-training have to spend hundreds of hours in the simulator before they can even enter the cockpits. Yet here we are in 2021, and still today, it is common practice to train surgeons in a real OR.”
Standardized training can help modernize medical education. The basic premise is simple: practice, practice, practice. Setting global training standards requiring simulation and practice puts the procedural side of training in a new context. While surgeons will still learn the technology, standardized training gives them clear guidelines and expectations, along with an objective way to measure success before they enter the OR.
Another benefit to standardization is that it gets all team members on the same page and can drive efficiencies by ensuring everyone receives the same, high-quality training experience. Back to the aviation example, standardized training allows airline crews to work together seamlessly, even when they often have never flown together before.
Similarly for robotic-assisted surgery, standardized training sets the metrics and defines proficiency parameters and expectations. It establishes the common practices and workflows that improve the efficiency of any team. And it sets a bar that all surgeons must meet to be certified for real-world practice.
“In essence,” says Mottrie, “we want to train surgeons up to proficiency level and ensure the assessments are fair. So at the end of the road, you have a very objective, reproducible, standardized way of training and assessing people." That’s where the Orsi Academy comes in.
Orsi Academy is committed to change. Founded by Dr. Mottrie and Dr. Vandenbroucke in 2010, it began as a relatively small and focused endeavor to bring surgeons together for more in-depth and personalized training. Yet in short order, it has grown into a global movement of societies, universities, and surgeons who all recognize the need for — and importance of — standardized training.
Dr. Mottrie explains: “Orsi Academy is an innovation and training center with a mission to improve medicine and to make surgeries better for the patients. We have made what we call an inclusive platform, where everybody is welcome to help us to accomplish our mission.”
Those involved in the development of these standards include surgeons and experts from a variety of countries, along with global scientific societies and key opinion leaders in the field of surgery. It also includes collaboration with start-up companies, large-scale device manufacturers, and students who come to the table with innovative ideas and the motivation to move the needle.
“The idea,” says Dr. Mottrie, “is to work all together to achieve our goal and to bring in the best possible training for surgeons, creating space to facilitate safer adoption of robotic technology, and ultimately allowing for patients to receive the best possible care.” And progress is already well underway. Dr. Mottrie has already worked with the European Association of Urology (EAU) to deliver standardized RAS training protocols in Urology, and this is just the beginning.
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