Robotic surgery and medical simulation have much in common: both use a mechanized interface that provides visual “patient” reactions in response to the actions of the health care professional (although simulation also includes touch feedback); both use monitors to visualize the progression of the procedure; and both use computer software applications through which the health care professional interacts. Both technologies are experiencing rapid adoption and are viewed as modalities that allow physicians to perform increasingly complex minimally invasive procedures while enhancing patient safety. A review of the literature and industry developments concludes that medical simulators can be useful tools in determining a physician's understanding and use of best practices, management of patient complications, appropriate use of instruments and tools, and overall competence in performing procedures.
Future use of these systems depends on their impact on patient safety, procedure completion time and cost efficiency. The sooner simulation training can be used to support developing technologies and procedures, the earlier, and typically the better, the results. Continued studies are needed to identify and ensure the ongoing applicability of these systems for both training and certification. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.