Medica is a bit like Rome for the business world—all roads eventually lead to the world’s largest medical exhibition. I often find some unexpected names on the exhibitor list of Medica, which once again filled the vast Messe Düsseldorf in Germany from 14 to 17 November. Last year, it was Velcro. This time, I happened upon Lockheed Martin. The defense giant was exhibiting a simulation system designed for healthcare environments. Initially developed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare procedures, the system has also been embraced by some medical device manufacturers, who are using it as a differentiator in marketing their products.
Modeled after flight simulators, Lockheed Martin’s Ice Storm—an acronym that stands for the unwieldy Integrated Clinical Environment; Systems, Training Operations, Research, Methods—is a virtual representation of today’s complex clinical environments. The goal is to make analysis and training fast, safe, measurable and reproducible. It offers practitioners a more immersive and holistic alternative to medical mannequins, which are traditionally used for teaching clinical care techniques. Of course, Ice Storm performs a number of other functions.
The realistic simulation of clinical environments—check out the video to gain an appreciation of the system’s sophistication—has captured the attention of some deft medical device manufacturers. “It allows them to show customers how their product can be used and how it can fit into a healthcare environment,” says Robert Szczerba, PhD, Corporate Director, Healthcare Initiatives. “Second- and third-tier companies are using the technology to build competitive advantage.” Lockheed Martin did not anticipate this application when it developed the technology, admits Szczerba. Needless to say, its perfectly happy to go along for the ride.Norbert Sparrow