Vertual's virtual training system cuts radiotherapy training costs
17 March 2009
A virtual environment for radiotherapy training (VERT) produced by
Hull-based Vertual is dramatically cutting NHS training costs and
helping improve cancer survival rates. The innovative product is now
generating worldwide interest thanks to the dedication and determination
of a team of NHS and university computer science specialists in Hull.
VERT was developed by Professor Andy Beavis, Professor Roger Phillips
and James Ward in a joint development effort between the University of
Hull and Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Already their business has sold 51 systems, with a first-year
turnover in excess of £3m and the potential of an order of magnitude
increase in annual turnover over the next five years.
The fully immersive version of the VERT is in place in the ten
accredited radiography teaching universities in England, with further
radiography centres looking at the implementation of the technology.
By wearing 3D glasses, VERT allows students to walk around a virtual
training room using computer-generated equipment and a hand-held
pendant, identical to that of the actual equipment used, to simulate
surgery, removing the need for training to be carried out in very
expensive radiography treatment suites.
Professor Andy Beavis with the VERT system
Professor Beavis, one of the founders of Vertual and an Honorary
Professor at the University of Hull said: “Practically every
radiotherapy hospital in England has taken up the chance to buy the
system. The Department of Health backed the project and recognised its
cost savings and efficiency and I’m also proud that we changed national
policy on the training of radiographers.”
The system allows accelerated and safer training of clinical
professionals, whilst instilling confidence and clinical experience in
Professor Beavis continued: “Noreen Sinclair, Principal Lecturer in
Radiography at London South Bank University told me that typically it
takes students about six months to become proficient in setting a
patient up on a couch, but this year, following one week's training and
two weeks' experience using VERT they were able to do this. So this is a
Vertual is now taking VERT international with a sales network
spanning North America, Europe and Australasia and has received interest
from other countries.
The team attributes part of the success of the project to the
encouragement and support from the University of Hull and Hull & East
Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Their attitude and drive is resonant of
the forward direction Hull is taking in all forms of regeneration
including healthcare technologies.
John Holmes, Chief Executive at Hull Forward, the city of Hull’s
economic development company (EDC), said: “Hull has a flourishing and
extremely innovative healthcare technologies sector, and Vertual is an
excellent example of our key strengths in this area. Working alongside
world leading companies who have operations in Hull, such as Smith and
Nephew, Seven Seas and Reckitt Benckiser, as well as engagement with our
SME base, Hull Forward will capitalise on the city's strengths to
improve its healthcare provision and provide a driving force for the
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