Medical students around the world suffer from a lack of practical knowledge and operational experience. Statistics show that the majority of operations training is performed on plastic simulators and dummies, rather than on corpses. This trend is easily explained by the fact that not many people would substitute their body for medical research, and the legal process of obtaining a body is lengthy and tedious, not to mention the corpse is immediately available only for a short amount of time before it would start to decompose and become useless for medical practice and research (Talmon 2010).
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The problem this situation presents to medical education as a whole is associated with the fact that freshly released graduates of medical schools and universities do not have the required levels of practical expertise to conduct even the simplest operations, and allowing them to treat patients is associated with risks of failure. With the advances in VR technology, however, this promises to change.
VR technology opens many opportunities for medical practice, as with the appropriate program software, the students will be allowed to practice and perform complex operations without endangering anyone’s life, and without having to require a real corpse to perform their studies. The increased realism of the experience would also prepare them mentally for the psychological strain associated with the treatment of a real body (Talmon, 2010). It is something that corpses do not imitate well due to being dead.
Our organization, the Centre of Digital Innovation Section from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, is interested in expanding the training channels available to medical students. As a pilot project, a training simulator software is to be developed to be used for appendectomy surgery simulation for the medical students at the University of Sharjah. The program will have limited use and will not simulate any operating areas on the human body outside the area surrounding the appendix, including organs, tissue, blood vessels, and bone structure.
Due to the complexity and high resource demands, parts of the project will be outsourced to programmers of WorldViz – a company specializing in outsourcing projects in different areas. The purposes of this group project include the planning and analysis of an outsourced IT medical project, perceiving the potential issues associated with it, and facing the challenges that include, but not limited to budget expenditures, limited timeframe, contractor issues, and expert matters.
Possible Issues with the Project
Every project is predicted to have issues associated with various constraints imposed by the clients, the situation, the urgency of the order, and other factors. For this VR appendectomy program software, the following constraints are considered prevalent:
- Financial constraints. VR is new to the software market, and qualified specialists skilled in adapting various programs to it are few and far between. This significantly increases the costs of the project. To avoid some of these constraints, outsourcing the project could involve specialists from low-wage countries, who would be able and willing to perform the task for less (Niazi et al. 2013).
- Time constraints. The University of Sharjah is anxious to receive the new education software by the start of the next student year. The estimated deadline for the project is October 1st, 2018.
- Professional Limitations. The project is in dire need of a professional with a profound understanding of both surgery, anatomy, and programming, to lead the project and work with the programming teams (Verner & Abdullah 2012). Finding such a professional should be the project’s top priority.
- Risks associated with outsourcing. Numerous studies indicate a high percentage of failure when it comes to IT outsourcing. Factors that influence the success or failure of an outsourced project include contract regulations, inter-cultural differences, time zones, and communication problems (Verner & Abdullah 2012).
- Contract difficulties. Some of the risks associated with contracting to outsource workers are connected to mutual distrust between the organizations, legal difficulties associated local contracting and quality requirements, as well as the inability to directly influence and enforce contract completion, should the outsourcing company not fulfill its intended purpose (Niazi et al. 2013).
- The complexity of the project. As this is a medical project, it is of paramount importance that the accuracy of the responses of the human body to surgical interventions is demonstrated properly. The majority of the programmers involved would likely not have a medical degree, meaning that the results of their work would need to be tested and controlled by the project manager. Defects associated with a lack of experience are likely.
- Lack of precise requirements. As this project is one of the first of its kind developed for Sharjah University, the requirements for the quality and accuracy of the simulation are rather vague. Developing a clear list of expectations, requirements, and quality control lists are paramount for the project (Verner & Abdullah 2012).
- Legal issues. Outsourcing contracts tend to have issues with ownership, as the companies performing the contract could potentially utilize and distribute the programming software with slight cosmetic modifications. Other issues involve jurisdictional issues, privacy issues, statutory issues, and termination issues, all of which would need to be covered in the contract (Verner & Abdullah 2012).
Talmon, G 2010, ‘The use of autopsy in preclinical medical education: a survey of pathology educators’, Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, vol. 134, no. 7, pp. 1047-1053.
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Niazi, M, Mahmood, S, Alshayeb, M, Riaz, MR, Faisal, J, Cerpa, N 2013, ‘Challenges of project management in global software development: initial results’, Science and Information Conference 2013, pp. 202-206.
Verner, JM, & Abdullah, LM, 2012, ‘Exploratory case study research: outsourced project failure’, Information and Software Technology, vol. 54, no.8, pp. 866-886.