Breaking Barriers and Crossing Borders - Innovative Education Training Platform TACTICS VR Launched in South Australia

Sep 2 2020

The University of Newcastle’s Centre for Advanced Training Systems (ATS) is excited to deploy their TACTICS VR: Acute Stroke Workflow training tool to 7 interstate sites in South Australia, as part of the next phase of the TACTICS clinical trial. 

TACTICS – Trial of Advanced CT Imaging and Combined Education Support, led by Professor Chris Levi is a trial funded by the Australian government that aims to improve access to stroke therapies in regional Australia. The trial is evaluating the effectiveness of an education and training intervention supporting implementation of advanced acute stroke imaging, streamlined workflows and reperfusion pathways and protocols for reperfusion therapy delivery. Professor Levi notes the challenges in delivering high quality and engaging education and training colleagues in regional rural and remote settings. “The VR module is the cornerstone of the TACTICS education and training intervention, aiming to deliver both best available evidence and expert opinion to regional and rural ‘front line’ clinicians”.

TACTICS VR is a virtual reality (VR)-based training application developed by ATS, in collaboration with the TACTICS team and the Hunter New England Area Health Stroke Network. TACTICS VR, provides healthcare professionals with a realistic, first-person immersion into hyper-acute stroke management. ATS Director Professor Rohan Walker highlights the motivation behind TACTICS VR – “The application is scalable, engaging and portable providing a new training option that can be effectively rolled out in rural, regional and remote hospitals to improve quality and equity of patient care.”

The VR training tool offers an immersive environment in which users are taken through a virtual stroke patient’s journey, with live-filming from experts, extensive assisted forensic collection of information, advanced imaging consultancy and treatment decision and support, as well as feedback on user performance to enhance their learning experience.

TACTICS VR has been designed to allow high quality immersive training to occur within regional sites. It is useful to a range of staff working in acute stroke care across emergency, neurology and radiology departments. In particular, the module is useful for junior medical officers and in training new and rotating staff for acute stroke care, to support optimal processing of an acute stroke patient entering the emergency department.

ATS has also expanded beyond the stand-alone VR application to setup a functional and integrated training platform, by adding a supporting website and reporting environment. The user-facing webpage provides information about the trial, the VR application and access to resources and educational videos. The back-end reporting environment automatically collects information on VR training usage, user performance, website usage and other useful information to support uptake and research. These new materials provide a training platform that can be adapted and expanded to support further training.

The SA launch will bring the number of active hospitals using TACTICS VR to 14, with the training package already having deployed to 7 NSW hospitals. Since the initial release in NSW, >100 healthcare staff underwent TACTICS VR training. Users provided positive feedback on the application, agreeing that training improved their confidence to make improvements in acute stroke care.

The TACTICS trial is funded through the NHMRC with partners including Hunter New England Health, UON, HMRI, The George Institute for Global Health, Queensland Health, Apollo Medical Imaging Technology, Boehringer Ingelheim, the University of NSW and University of Melbourne.

Learn more about ATS project, including TACTICS VR https://www.advancedtrainingsystems.org.au/projects/