News / Tech

Bristol tech startup playing crucial role in tackling pandemic

By Ellie Pipe, Monday May 4, 2020

An immersive training platform developed in Bristol is being mobilised to upskill a million medical staff worldwide to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Using specialist augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), Virti is able to rapidly retrain healthcare workers to ensure they are safe and prepared to take on the additional challenges posed by the global pandemic.

The Bristol-based startup, which also has offices the USA, seeks to make experiential education affordable and accessible for everyone and is the only company of its kind to be awarded funding as part of the NHS’ National Innovation Programme.

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Launched by NHSX, a Government agency tasked with driving digital transformation of care, the national TechForce19 challenge called on innovators who could support the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating during COVID-19 to apply for government funding of up to £25,000 to test their solutions.

With many retired and volunteer health professionals drafted in to help tackle the crisis, providing fast, effective training was crucial.

Virti founder and CEO Dr Alexander Young said “Healthcare systems globally are finding it incredibly challenging to scale traditional face-to-face training to meet updated guidelines and to train their workforce quickly and effectively in both community and hospital settings.”

The former trauma and orthopaedic surgeon and NHS National Innovation Fellow added: “We’re delivering fast and effective training at scale so that the health and social care workforce is prepared and safe when providing vital care to patients in hospital or isolated in the community.”

The technololgy is being used to train a million healthcare workers worldwide. Photo courtesy of Virti

Some 1,600 firms applied for the competition funding, which is designed to rapidly gain COVID-specific evidence that will then help to guide wider deployment.

Virti’s training platform is already used by the NHS and organisations internationally.

Minister for housing and communities Simon Clarke said: “In these difficult times, it’s inspiring to see how innovative, digital solutions can help combat the effects of social isolation and support some of the most vulnerable people during the pandemic.

“I am impressed by the scope of the winning bids and it is important, now more than ever, to ensure people get the support they need and deserve.”

Main photo courtesy of Virti

Read more: The Bristol startup taking lead role in development of coronavirus vaccine

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