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How this app for surgeons is helping make operations safer

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Heavy handed but always dreamt of becoming a surgeon? Andre Chow of Touch Surgery believes it's your brain that matters most.

Having the ‘hands of a surgeon’ is an expression that we’ve all heard before.

Steady hands, delicate touch and unmatched patience are all desired attributes of the successful surgeon. Some of us weren’t so fortunate, and were born slightly heavier handed.

Fortunately, Andre Chow‘s app for surgeons is providing a solution.

Whilst finishing off his PhD in stem cell research and training as a general surgeon in 2013, Chow co-founded an app for surgeons called Touch Surgery.

“When we started this, we took a long look at the elements of surgical skill. What makes a really good surgeon?”

Described on their site as the app that guides you through complex operations by breaking them down into their individual steps, Touch Surgery aims to provide those in the field with the skills needed to become a great surgeon.

“Everyone knows a surgeon needs good hands. Not many people think about… the cognitive abilities of the surgeon… You’ll find that actually, about 75% of a safe operation is down to a surgeon’s brain, rather than his hands.”

As such, Touch Surgery focuses heavily on the cognitive processes that occur in the operating theater. An area of teaching that Chow says previously wasn’t focused on enough.

“There’s no real formalizing method of teaching surgical decision making, or surgical cognitive skills. So that’s the bit that we look at.”

Now boasting the largest community of practicing virtual surgeons, the app has received glowing recommendations from The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.

Its industry wide success comes down to the sheer detail that goes into the app for surgeons.

“(We) work with expert surgeons in their fields and have in-depth interviews. We video them operating, and really try to understand exactly what they are going through.”

Chow and his team are dispelling the myth that it’s merely a surgeon’s hands that are indispensable when it comes to operating theater success. Does this mean that anyone can become a surgeon?

Absolutely not. Lets hope Touch Surgery’s phase two isn’t the democratization of surgery.

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