Interview with Erik Jacobsson
MRI simulators are helping radiographers and technologists gain the skills they need to acquire high-level clinical images to support patient diagnosis and treatment.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners are a mainstay of modern medical care. They are a critical part of the diagnosis and treatment process by providing images that enable doctors to better assess a patient’s condition and tailor care to ensure the best clinical outcomes.
Key to this is the quality of the images obtained from an MRI scan, but to deliver this, radiographers and MRI technologists need to have the correct skill levels and relevant training. Radiologist and MRI expert Erik Hedström explains: “MR images serve as data to make analysis and decisions on diagnosis and treatments – the better the data, the better the treatment.”
MRI is a two-step process: with radiographers/MRI technologists running the scanner to acquire images; and then analysis of those images by radiologists.
However, if the radiographer does not have the relevant skills, practice or training to create those images, that can lead to low quality images. Dr Hedström points out: “Low-quality images are expensive as they mean the radiologist either has to take a risk on the patient’s diagnosis, making a call with insufficient data or examine the same patient again, which is time-consuming and costly.” Re-scanning the patient is a common approach and figures suggest this may be happening in 5–15% of cases.
“To avoid this, radiographers have to become better; they have to practice and specifically, practice hands-on at a scanner,” he adds. “Yet hands-on practice can be difficult to get because MRI scanners are one of the most expensive items of equipment in a hospital, and dedicated training time is sparse.”
Hospitals use the simulator to train their staff to run the scanners better, to get results more efficiently, and make fewer mistakes.
To address the lack of hands-on training availability, Corsmed offers an MRI simulation platform that allows radiographers and technologists to train, without taking up valuable dedicated time on the hospital’s MRI scanning resources, meaning they can be used at a higher intensity for direct patient care.
Describing the platform as the “flight simulator for MRI”, Erik Jacobsson, who is CEO of Corsmed, says: “In short, our product is a virtual MRI scanner and training platform for MRI. It allows radiographers, MRI techs and other people to better train, practice and learn through more accessible hands-on practice.”
“We solve the gap of available and needed MRI training hours by creating a ‘flight simulator for MRI’, which can be used in the same way as a real scanner with vendor-neutral interfaces, and the same process of setting up sequences, slice positions, and parameters.”
The MRI simulator delivers the same image output as an actual scanner by simulating the MRI signal. “This effectively gives a one-to-one experience compared to practising on real scanners, but with infinite practice hours, available from anywhere, without patient or scanner risk, and for a fraction of the cost,” adds Jacobsson.
“Hospitals use the simulator to train their staff to run the scanners better, to get results more efficiently, and make fewer mistakes. They also use it to retain personnel. Personnel leaving is a huge cost and continuous education is one of the best ways to keep personnel, and to have personnel feeling invested in being a long-term member of the team.”
Education and upskilling
Beyond the clinics, the MRI simulator has value for other user groups, such as in education for the training of college students before, during and after clinical placement and for individuals looking to refresh or upskill their MRI expertise.
Jacobsson adds: “We have seen many different settings in which the simulator have been valuable, inluding students who want to use the simulator to understand MRI more. In-depth, in-clinic practitioners who want to faster cross-train from CT to MRI and users wanting to learn more can become more knowledgeable or even position themselves for employment.”
The simulator may also assist professional societies and course providers in giving their members and participants “more hands-on practice in MRI” where they otherwise are not able to gain enough access to scanners and patients to facilitate training.