A recent LinkedIn article by Donna Eldridge (shared with permission) from Pulse Research & Development shares a fascinating journey of invention!
“It was my arm standing in as the C-arm, my cell phone as the fluoroscope, an iPad and a block of silicone… that was our first training model.”
Jerry Long, Director of International Marketing at Boston Scientific had a challenge; “How could we as a company and as an industry impact the number of endourology procedures globally and especially in emerging markets?”
With the Society of Endourology, Jerry and his team convened thought leaders in urology to find some possible solutions. They were well aware that the three barriers would be: Training, Capital Equipment, and Reimbursement – which is especially tricky in some regions. The group decided to focus their efforts on training. They saw training as the activity most likely to launch – and predicted it as the most direct strategy to get physicians to do more procedures.
Supported by BSCI leadership, The Stone Institute was established to develop an integrated training program that could be taken around the world.
Like most new endeavors they began with limited resources to see if their idea was workable and eventually scalable. Would they be able to attract physicians? Could it be replicated internationally? How would it affect surgeon perspectives for treatment? And would the program find support with partners in the field?
The objective was to create a consistent high-quality training program combining didactic and hands-on instruction to improve key surgical & procedural skills advancing the level of expertise for Stone Disease globally.
The expectation was to grow the volume of procedures performed worldwide with the overall intention of improving patient health.
At the completion of the initial training programs, evaluating the first participant feedback, and with Jerry’s arm quickly wearing out, the team began planning improvements for the next round of training. A second-generation training model involved hacksawing off the back of an old office chair to get the required ‘C-shape’ for the C-arm and creating a rough SLA or 3D printed kidney. Additional training programs garnered more and better feedback on both the classroom training and the hands-on surgical lab.
The next stop was the Boston Scientific model shop where the first of many portable, radiation free, C-arm designs was crafted and operable calyceal molds were cast.
More training, more feedback, and required improvements were made.
They now had enough information to have Pulse Research + Development create & produce in quantity, beautiful & branded 8th generation models: realistic mini C-arms and surgical practice kidney calyces that provided a very real-life surgical experience, designed to be totally congruent with The Stone Institute.
In the 18 months since The Stone Institute was established, 630 physicians have been trained globally in the surgical skills for flexible ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNL).
- The innovative lab design has enabled a realistic and radiation-free environment for practicing surgical techniques
- The novel clear silicon kidney model offers true-to-life needle puncture pressure and feeling
- And the custom camera and software replicates fluoroscopy images on a screen
- At each selected training site a core faculty member has been paired with a ‘local’ faculty member for training delivered at a hospital or conference center. The pairing integrates each program culturally, raising visibility and building trust.
- Post program surveys have found that surgeons doubled their confidence level in the key skills
- Procedure volumes have increased overall, achieving the goal of improving patient health
Using direct and specific surgeon feedback The Stone Institute has been able to create the most captivating & compelling, practical & portable, striking & memorable experience possible. In addition to sites like South Africa, Brazil, Poland, Dubai, China, and Singapore – ongoing programs will continue to be offered around the globe.
“It’s scary to go out to the customer with something ugly or something that you don’t know is going to work. But it is wonderful to engage physicians in a way that gets them to jump on board and partner with you. The physicians every step of the way have been enthusiastic critics to improve the overall experience for the next group of trainees.” – Jerry Long, The Stone Institute