Innovation Saskatchewan is responsible for implementing the province’s innovation priorities and helping grow Saskatchewan’s tech sector. Effective April 2022, this includes operation of the Innovation Place technology parks in Saskatoon and Regina.

Interview with Luxsonic CEO Dr. Mike Wesolowski

The Future of Healthcare Education

We have a healthcare problem in Saskatchewan, Canada and across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a shortage of 18 million health workers globally by 2030, not including the additional growing demands on our systems and countries that do not currently have access to modern healthcare. This creates not only multiple barriers to access for individuals, but also an urgent need to train healthcare workers.

Problem is healthcare training is expensive, very hands on and can take people away from their communities with low rates of return, further exacerbating the gap between urban and rural healthcare. Fortunately, Luxsonic Technologies is already at work on a powerful solution.

“Healthcare isn't distributed equally, so the distribution of training is not equal either” said Dr. Mike Wesolowski, CEO of Luxsonic Technologies. “Our mission is to enable global access to healthcare using immersive technology to democratize access to care.”

Wesolowski and his team are using immersive technologies, like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), to remove these barriers and enhance access to healthcare training, education and delivery. “Virtual reality can make you feel present in a digital environment and that feeling of presence can be really powerful,” says Wesolowski. “When you create a virtual clinical environment in a VR headset, you can take that environment with you, so we can look at the distribution of healthcare in a different way as well.”

Recreating and exposing individuals to a specialized environment in VR, like an emergency room, vastly reduces the cost of training, increases safety for all individuals involved and decreases displacement from communities. It can also dramatically reduce strain on overburdened areas in our healthcare system like medical imaging and radiology, which are critical to modern healthcare.

For example, Luxsonic’s first product SieVRt, a digital twin of a radiologist’s workflow, recreates the radiology reading room and allows radiologists to perform their work from any location instead of one physical location, creating a more accommodating, inexpensive and flexible work environment. “We can provide access to workflow in a way that just isn't possible with traditional technology,” said Wesolowski.

Luxsonic is the first company in the world to receive Health Canada authorization for VR software specifically for medical imaging and has already implemented SieVRt across North America, including right here in Saskatchewan with Dr. Brent Burbridge at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Burbridge is conducting a research trial to test if SieVRt can solve issues within medical education, specifically the efficacy of collaborating and training in the virtual world. “We can bring people in from anywhere in the world and have them share this workflow in a very similar way to being in a physical space,” said Wesolowski.

And radiology is just the tip of the iceberg. Luxsonic has already seen success on their consulting and contract software development side, working with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to build CaregiVR, a VR medical training program for a zero-gravity environment, and the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics (SCoP) to develop and run VR test scenarios and create educational videos for health and safety protocols during the pandemic.

“The project allowed SCoP to distribute information widely and have paramedics experience being in a training scenario in a way that was more impactful and immersive than just watching a traditional video,” said Wesolowski.

Luxsonic is continuing to work with SCoP and also the Saskatchewan Society of Medical Lab Technologists (SSMLT) in two federally funded projects to build hands-on competency exams in VR to allow assessments for internationally trained professionals and for the skills upkeep and maintenance of out of practice professionals in Canada.

They are also partnering with Saskatchewan Search and Rescue to help train individuals using their CaregiVR platform as well as continuing work with CSA on training and real-time guidance for astronauts on a third project jointly funded by CSA and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) focusing on remote healthcare on earth that can be applied to space. “Honestly, it’s a dream come true for me,” said Wesolowski. “I’ve been a space nerd my entire life. Being able to work with the CSA and the thought that our technology maybe one day be used in space, is very humbling.”

Wesolowski is quick to point out the parallels between space travel and remote medicine here on Earth and how their work in space can be translated to rural communities and vice versa. “A good chunk of Canada’s population is remote and rural and we need to think about better ways to be able to support those populations,” said Wesolowski. “The provision of healthcare in space-based environments needs to be semi-autonomous and self-contained, so the VR apps we build for space may also be able to address the healthcare needs of remote communities.”

With the SieVRt platform and the launch of the CaregiVR platform set for next year, Wesolowski is excited about Luxsonic’s future and their ability to really help people with their technology and improve access to healthcare. “We do a lot of cool stuff and we’re working with some of the most prestigious healthcare organizations in the world to improve access to healthcare and ultimately trying to be good citizens of the planet,” said Wesolowski.

Contact Luxsonic to learn more about their products or get a free consult.

Luxsonic Technologies is part of the Innovation Place community in Saskatoon representing our Information & Communications Technology sector.

- March 18, 2022