Omaha is setting global standards for virtual medical training.
The city of Omaha will spend $10.5 million to help the University of Nebraska Medical Center build a virtual reality medical training facility on its campus in midtown.
UNMC researchers also demonstrated how tomorrow's doctors will be trained using VR, holograms and 3D technology.
Medical applications developed at UNMC, using Microsoft HoloLens, allow students to get inside and outside views of virtual patients – so they can practice procedures without touching a scalpel.
Researchers developing medical training applications in Omaha are technology pioneers, said Michael Kozak, UNMC technology educator.
"There's such an open, collective, collaborative environment here, where we thought maybe this wall would be somewhere else but it's right here,” Kozak said. “We can get our hands on it and gage it. Interact with students, staff and patients with lots of different things. We're changing innovation here. It's setting global standards."
Kozak and technology researcher Ben Stobbe were at City Hall Tuesday, demonstrating various headsets that students will eventually use to perform virtual procedures such as surgery.
"What’s exciting about this technology is, because, we don't know what we can do and it's all limited to our imagination," Stobbe said.
While UNMC’s latest technology center won't be open for several years, a classroom is ready for students at the main campus.
"They can use the technology and experience those in a virtual environment or simulated environment prior to ever go to a patient bedside," Stobbe said.
What about the 10.5 million taxpayer dollars spent on the project?
Stobbe says it's well worth the money.
"They're going to be in the hands of one of these clinicians at some point in their life. We would like them to know they're experiencing the safest clinicians that's out there. We're able to competency assess these individuals in a safe environment before they get to that clinical care."
Medical specialists help create various applications so virtual patients react identical to humans, Stobbe said.