Digital Health Age recently sat down with medical software developer 3D4Medical to discuss the company’s digital anatomy platform, Complete Anatomy. Niall Johnston, co-founder and president of the company spoke to us about the product, detailing how students and medical professionals are using the app.
Could you tell me about Complete Anatomy?
Complete Anatomy is transforming how anatomy is taught and studied around the world. The revolutionary cloud-based platform allows the user to investigate the minute detail of the human anatomy in incredible 3D. In the comfort of this 3D world, users can explore by rotating individual structures, zooming to the finest detail and revealing the anatomy layer by layer. Users can access vast libraries of anatomical information and watch 3D lectures from top experts and animations on a range of topics. The unique sharing power of the app allows educators and students to share information with ease. Educators can also create custom lectures using 3D4Medical material and/or their own material and push these custom lectures to the groups of students of their choice.
What are the training benefits it provides and whom does it benefit most?
3D4Medical is working with leading anatomists worldwide to create content in a number of areas, including radiology, histology and physiology. The application is currently being piloted in over 100 medical schools worldwide, many of which are reporting great success already, despite the fact that Lecture Builder was only released four months ago.
The benefits of Complete Anatomy really can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in anatomy. The ability to enjoy full 360 views of structures, which is impossible to achieve from books, allows students a far greater understanding of the anatomical structures and systems than is achievable from books. The application also complements cadaveric dissection, which is not always available to students, allowing students, for instance, to isolate a structure, fade all others and focus on just that specific structure for further examination.
By using the latest advances in 3D technology, educators can teach age-old anatomical concepts in a new and modern way. By engaging with the application, they can prepare educational material that appeals to different kinds of learners, whether through stunning 3D representations of organs or neurovascular structures; live audio discussions of complex anatomical concepts with the recordings feature; or descriptive written content in the screens feature. In addition, the import feature allows educators to go beyond anatomical framework and incorporate other medical learning objectives, such as physiological concepts or the use of clinical cases.
3D4Medical is committed to transforming medical learning and Complete Anatomy and Lecture Builder together make the teaching and learning of anatomy a collaborative, yet highly-personalised, experience.
Do you see this type of digital health application becoming more widespread in the future?
The 21st century student lives in a digital world and education is adapting across the board. 3D4Medical specialises in the development of medical technologies that allow medical professionals, educators, students and patients around the globe to see the world of medicine in the new, more accessible and engaging light of 3D, putting cutting-edge medical information at their fingertips. The prevalence of health applications is only set to increase in this digital world and medical institutions are embracing this societal shift.
How do you plan to update the app? Are you planning any new features etc.?
Complete Anatomy is constantly being developed, with an update released approximately every 12 weeks. The input of the various academic and medical experts that have come on board, together with our Advisory Board and Medical Review Board, has been crucial to the development of Complete Anatomy: their knowledge, experience and wisdom has been invaluable. The development team at 3D4Medical is constantly striving to improve the application and works with leading anatomists to create content in a number of areas, including radiology, histology and physiology.
In Q1 2017, we will be launching Complete Ortho, the first in a series of clinical applications that we will be releasing over the next 12 months. It will aim to transform the doctor/patient relationship, allowing medical professionals to interact with their patients in a more educational and empowering way. The patient will be guided through the process from the initial diagnosis to recovery in incredible 3D, allowing for a greater level of understanding of their issue and treatment options. This will allow patients and doctors to share the decision-making, hopefully decreasing physician re-visits, improving medical outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction.
Can this kind of technology help relieve NHS pressure by giving trainee doctors better insight into human anatomy?
Complete Anatomy is widely used among medical professionals to interact with patients and is a great medium through which medical professionals can illustrate an issue to a patient, detailing the problem and what might help or exacerbate the concern: in fact, it was the increasing use of the Complete Anatomy platform by medical professionals that led to the development of Complete Ortho. In addition, Complete Anatomy also acts as a ‘refresher’ for medical professionals, allowing time-pressed doctor to access information on an anatomical issue at the touch of a button rather than search through dense academic texts and reference material.
We believe that Complete Anatomy will revolutionise the way doctors and patients communicate; ultimately increasing medical understanding and improving patient-care from remote villages to the best hospitals in the world.
How does the app facilitate learning?
Anatomy is a beautiful and interesting subject; however, it can be incredibly challenging for students to grasp due to the fact that structures are often quite hidden and hard to visualise. The human anatomy is not two-dimensional and teaching effectively from a flat textbook is not at all optimum. It is important for students to be able to imagine and manipulate a whole structure in their mind for them to apply the knowledge in clinical practice but this is not easy if one has never seen a moving muscle or traced an artery.
Complete Anatomy allows educators to take anatomical learning to another level allowing students to easily visualise 360 views of various structures of the anatomy in stunning 3D. Complimenting cadaveric dissection, which is not always readily available to students, students can instead use an iPad to learn about the various systems and structures of the body.
Do you think this type of technology is needed more within educational establishments?
It was initially students that drive the demand for Complete Anatomy. Digital is the language that is native to them and Complete Anatomy bridges that gap in the learning media available to medical students today. The emergence of mobile technologies in recent years is changing medical education and there is no longer room for traditional methods alone. It was estimated in 2012 that nearly 25% of medical schools in the US had incorporated iPads as educational tools. A study completed in March 2016 found that the main advantages of iPads in medical learning included instant and constant access to information and resources, portability, ease of use and efficient time management.
Dr. Erin Fillmore, an anatomy lecturer at Buckingham University who has integrated Complete Anatomy into her curriculum, has stressed the importance of the profession evolving to incorporate digital innovation, noting that it would be a mistake to ignore mobile digital aides.
Do you see any potential for augmented reality or virtual reality to coincide with Complete Anatomy?
The advent of VR, AR and MR is very exciting and we are always working on advances in the area of medical learning that will improve the experience for all involved. The Project Esper developers and designers at 3D4Medical have been exploring the possibilities of complementing the 3D magnificence of Complete Anatomy with the application of mixed reality, considering the potential of features such as gesture-controlled investigations of the anatomy and allowing the user to reveal organs layer-by-layer. The possibilities really are endless.