July 6, 2015

3D and Cost Avoidance

I attended a symposium session presented by Dr. David V. Lenihan (Ph.D., J.D., FRSM), the Chief Academic Officer of Arist Medical Education Corporation and past Dean of Preclinical Medicine with the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. His presentation was simple, short, and none-the-less brilliant. Describing “Tomorrow’s Medical School,” Dr. Lenihan quickly focused his talk on “monetizing 3d.” I like to call it cost avoidance with 3D.

A Worthy Case Study
The use of 3D instruction, asserts Lenihan, can help create monetary advantages for higher ed institutions. To Lenihan, this combination simply makes sense on a number of levels. Remember that:
  • Cadavers are costly and difficult to maintain
  • There is, of course, limited cadaver availability
  • Cadaver training sessions cannot be repeated easily (one and done)
  • Current cadaver availability offers little to no support for independent learning (since it’s one and done, there’s absolutely no room for second chances, more time or exposure, or repeated practice)

Lenihan adds: “Anecdotally, there are several limitations to cadavers, including surgeries/removal of organs prior to cadaver donation, the permanence of dissection itself, and a general “take what you can get” reality when accepting cadavers for study.” And the challenges do not stop there. Cadaver tissue is not the same as living tissue, he argues, cautioning that “in the case of human anatomy, the cadaver can only do so much.” Finally, he mentioned that cadavers are not the only resource in short supply. A severe shortage of anatomy instructors currently exists.

That’s where 3D comes in. His argument revolves around combining 3D simulation with smarter use of cadavers. He labels 3D sims + cadaver labs as a modified anatomy program (MAP); just cadavers, books and videos are considered the traditional anatomy program. By joining 3D simulation with lab-based cadaver instructional experiences, immense savings can be realized and quantified.

Comparing costs of traditional anatomy to MAP anatomy with 3D

Traditional anatomy costs over time versus MAP costs over time

By combining 3D visualization/simulation experiences with the cadaver lab (he uses the well-known Cyber-Anatomy program), Dr. Lenihan speculates that improved results for medical school are also possible. These include:
  •  Better understanding with respect to body relationships
  • Allowing the student to review material over again if they make a mistake
  • More frequent practice assuming a variety of clinical cases

Dr. Lenihan quantifies the benefits of monetization (our notion of cost avoidance) for medical schools:
  • Real cost savings for year one of medical school
  • Continued, although reduced, cost savings for the remaining years of medical school
  • Expansion of cadaver use to fields where cadavers are currently not available and/or financially feasible
  • Allowing the 3D recording of sessions for students (record once, use many times)
  • Enabling master teachers to deliver content anywhere in the world, while allowing the student to learn from the best

The message is really about cost avoidance. Identifying cost avoidance opportunities for educational settings is a praiseworthy strategy.

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