A few days ago, InSimo launched the new version of its online ultrasound simulator, diSplay U/S/. The opportunity to review the genesis of this project, born in a very specific context, or how InSimo succeeded in setting up a solidarity initiative while seizing a development opportunity with undeniable potential. Let’s travel back about a year ago. The health crisis was taking a worrying turn, and the first lockdown had just started. However, while we were forced to stay at home, full of uncertainties, actions of solidarity were taking place, and many were trying to make themselves useful on their own scale.
InSimo has been developing simulation software for medical and surgical training for years. We work in close collaboration with medical experts, in particular doctors and surgeons from the University Hospitals of Strasbourg or the IHU Strasbourg, directly affected by the crisis. That is why at the beginning of the lockdown, we sought a way to have a positive impact in this time based on the skills and technologies of our startup. The choice quickly fell on what we know how to do best: develop a simulation module for the training of healthcare professionals. We wanted to develop a tool that could be quickly operational, and be consistent with the needs highlighted by the crisis. Thus, we started the development of a lung ultrasound training module for the diagnosis of Covid-19. According to several studies published after the start of the crisis, pleuropulmonary ultrasound indeed represents an effective identification tool for the diagnosis and monitoring of respiratory symptoms of Covid-19.
We were able to rely on the foundation of our diSplay Learning software dedicated to surgical planning education, to which we already had the ambition to add an ultrasound feature. The technical process was obvious, to put everything into this ultrasound development which was just starting up and to fully exploit the web architecture already at the heart of the diSplay simulator. We were going to move away from surgery to discover the medical specifics of lung ultrasound diagnosis, but the basics were there.
In record time, the first version of the simulator was available. At the beginning of May 2020, InSimo delivered a first version (MVP) with completely free access, which users could install on their personal computers. Over the weeks, new case-patients were added to practice diagnosing lesions of different levels of severity.
First version of diSplay U/S
For the specific needs of this module, InSimo has developed an innovative engine for ultrasound images generation from CT images, which allows the user to visualise ultrasound images of the patient’s lungs studied in real time. During the development of this solution, we could count on our local partners Visible Patient, KeyDiag, the Hacking Health community and the IHU Strasbourg, and particularly Doctor Juan Manuel Verde and Professor Leonardo Sosa-Valencia, who validate with us the relevance and quality of the simulator.
After this first phase of deploying our MVP to the medical community, we noted that the installation of specific software limits its access and distribution. Indeed, issues of hardware compatibility, operating system or security came back to us and the need for a more accessible solution was obvious. The identified need went beyond the health crisis, and responded to an increasingly important need for accessibility. We therefore seized the opportunity offered to us to provide a comprehensive, technologically advanced, and above all completely accessible online ultrasound training tool.
Use it everywhere, at anytime
At the end of the summer 2020, it was done: healthcare workers and students wishing to train in the diagnosis of Covid-19 by ultrasound could now access diSplay U / S anywhere and anytime, without any hardware needed other than their usual connected device. InSimo then became the publisher of its first online medical simulator accessible to a community of users that went well beyond our usual audience. This is a positioning that we would not have imagined 6 months earlier and which gives us new visibility among the actors in our sector.
Thanks to the support of the Eurometropolis of Strasbourg through the AMI “Health Territories of Tomorrow” 2020 we were able to continue an initiative born in the crisis and which, since, reveals all its potential well beyond the need identified initially. This investment supported InSimo’s ambition to make high-fidelity medical simulation accessible to as many people as possible, to effectively train healthcare professionals and without risk for the patient.
With the grant obtained, InSimo was able to start a collaboration with the Adeliom agency, experts in user experience. Indeed, to move from the “simulator that simulates” to the “simulator that trains”, the challenge was to provide educational content to make diSplay an autonomous learning tool.
New intuitive user interface
The integration of this new set of features had to be ergonomic and the training curriculum relevant. The UX approach carried by Adeliom guided us in this new phase which resulted in the delivery of a new version of the simulator. Users now benefit from a revamped, more intuitive interface and can practice the standardized POCUS diagnostic protocol. The scope of use of diSplay U/S is therefore starting to broaden.
The diSplay U/S adventure does not end there. New features are still expected for the year 2021. InSimo will soon be offering a smartphone application that will complete the educational experience. Transformed into a bluetooth ultrasound probe connected to the simulator, phones will allow students to train in the ultrasound gesture. The interface will evolve to adapt to different users, and new exercises will be available. Other emergency-specific protocols will also be implemented in the coming months, making diSplay U/S an increasingly comprehensive solution for learning ultrasound. The development roadmap is busy for 2021 and IHU Strasbourg has now officially joined the team.
The diSplay U/S app is coming soon!
What we can remember from the story of diSplay U/S is that we were able, in the face of an emergency situation, to rely on our strengths and our skills in order to develop in record time a reliable tool to answer a specific problem. But this project also shed light on other opportunities that we managed to seize to develop a product with strong potential that responds to a larger issue. From a solidarity initiative, we are developing a new product line, and have gained visibility around the world. With nearly 500 users all over the world, diSplay continues to help resolve the crisis. It is also becoming a powerful educational tool, with an innovative positioning and adapted to the evolution of educational methods, which should find its place in the medical simulation market.
Feel free to test diSplay U/S online ultrasound simulator