Virtual interactive presence (VIP) is a new technology that allows an individual to deliver real-time virtual assistance to another geographically remote individual via a standard Internet connection. The objectives of this pilot study were to evaluate the efficiency and performance of a VIP system implemented in an operating room setting, determine the potential utility of the system for guidance of surgical procedures, and assess the safety of the system.Methods:
Following institutional review board approval, fifteen patients underwent arthroscopic shoulder procedures. Two VIP stations were used, one in the operating room and the other in an adjoining dictation room. The attending surgeon proctored operating resident surgeons from the dictation room until his physical presence was required in the operating room. Following each procedure, the attending surgeon, resident surgeons, and three surgical staff members completed a Likert-scale questionnaire regarding the educational utility, efficiency of use, and safety of the system. The operative time was also compared with historical data.Results:
Both attending and resident surgeons assigned a favorable rating to the utility of the VIP to highlight anatomy and provide feedback to the resident (p > 0.05 for the difference). Both groups agreed that the system was easy to use and that safety was not compromised (p > 0.05). The majority of resident and attending surgeon responses indicated no perceptible lag between motions (95% and 100%, respectively; p > 0.99) and no interference of the VIP system with the surgical procedure (85% and 100%, respectively; p = 0.24). The mean operative times with and without VIP use did not differ significantly for rotator cuff repair (p = 0.90) or for treatment of instability (p = 0.57).Conclusions:
This pilot study revealed that the VIP technology was efficient, safe, and effective as a teaching tool. The attending and resident surgeons agreed that training was enhanced, and this occurred without increasing operative times. Furthermore, the attending surgeon believed that this technology improved teaching effectiveness. These results are promising, and further objective quantification is warranted.