Exceptional entrepreneurial medic, Maulik, has invented ground-breaking, vital technology that improves the efficacy of modern orthopaedic surgery: namely simulated procedural reality. The impressive gear allows those currently in orthopaedic medical training to adeptly practice the mechanical movements from within the operating room independently. “The tech is augmented reality: as opposed to virtual reality where you’re looking at an entirely fictive artificial landscape,” Maulik told us; “augmented is integrated into the real world and adds virtual elements e.g., Pokémon Go, the nostalgic children’s game, was a very early augmented reality. You saw the streets actually in front of you with the programmed graphic appearing. My tech is specifically intraoperative. It will pick up hand movements and apply them to an immersive operative picture.” This advanced arthroscopic teaching has been tested on burgeoning surgeons who have performed markedly better as a result.
Maulik, who is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, specialises in the elbow and shoulder, and continued: “I’m generally interested in advancing medical teaching and the virtue of learning. This tech came of my experience as a trainee observing inspiring trainers. When you have a good teacher, the effect is two-fold. Not only are you providing quality patient-care but also developing two generations at once. Oneself and the field as well as the new talent who are necessarily carrying on the legacy.” Equally passionate about handheld gadgets growing up then, Maulik uniquely combined his clinical education and love of accessible tech to create arthroscopic simulation and develop an educative curriculum that could be implemented widely. Maulik is the Co-Director of MAVRIC: medical augmented and virtual reality innovative coaching. “If we do it right, the equipment can be scaled up across the world. The vision is to be able to have a great simulator for every individual who requires one in the privacy of their own home. They’d be able to practice little bits of surgery here and there so they may improve over time. My journey isn’t about furthering myself, marketing or profit – it’s to inspire as many people as possible. The next step is partnering with NHS England to further test and evaluate more innovations[mg1] .”
Indeed, the patented tech, or, Mavric can be extended for use in other medical departments, from cardiology to neurosurgery, and even cross-industrially beyond. In this way, the simulator goes beyond creating new opportunities for medics to revolutionise the way medicine and pragmatic training is fundamentally learned. Finally, in lieu of the sometimes-superfluous glamour of auxiliary tech, Maulik interestingly utilises what is inherently there: “there are so many advances in tech in lifestyle but such crude and basic equipment within the NHS or healthcare,” the philanthropic founder stated; “and if you try to incorporate even mediocre tech into the NHS, it’s three times the price of a high-end smart phone. As a result, a lot of my energy is put into pivoting existing tech e.g., in the past, I’ve converted a remote from Nintendo Wii into a keyhole camera for the value of £25.00. It would basically but effectively map how your hands move and simply needed some adaptive thinking to take it to the next level. There’s a lot at our fingertips and we need only to acknowledge it. Imagine also the possibilities for developing countries. Nowadays everyone across the globe has access to a smart phone. The tech can be easily downloaded as an app, opening the doors to those less fortunate, disseminating core surgical skills. It wouldn’t simply improve learning in the first world.” And so, Maulik holistically invigorates society from deep within. He doesn’t simply demonstrate the innovative height of medicine, but also the far-reaching benefit of a true paradigm of progress. One that powerfully propels civilisation as opposed to simply ornamenting or reinforcing it. “Big solutions come of being proactive – transforming incredible frustration into an approach that you know is better. This is what drives me. This mindset can accomplish breath-taking feats.” Novelty, here, is a natural incarnation of moral responsibility.
You embody innovation that stretches beyond orthopaedics. What does that exactly mean for you?
The best patient-care. Everything I do is towards this end.
How did your augmented arthroscopic reality initially come about?
I’ve always been interested in teaching and wearable tech that monitor or diagnose in the context of healthcare. Then when I was at medical school, completing orthopaedic rotation, I began to think that it may be more fun to learn via the format of playing a computer game. I thought if I can work out how to really apply the particular skills required, it could be educatively workable. I programmed the first generation of the prototype myself. Then I completed a MPhil where I was dedicated to developing the tech, comparing my model to other VR simulations available at the time. That’s when commercial interest began being won.
Later, I was in one of the first cohorts of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Scheme. Again, I was able to grow contacts and leverage. I also received the BOA International Travelling Fellowship to South Korea (July – Aug 2017). During this time, I was able to patent other forthcoming innovations involving position of instruments and implants during hip and knee surgery (dANGLE).
How did the pandemic impact on your progress?
From a positive perspective, there was a massive shift in people’s mental attitude towards simulation training. People wanted to upskill and maintain existing skills using tech. I actually run the Technical Skills Lab and the number of people who’ve wanted to tighten up their proficiency has really rocketed.
Finally, what made you want to specialise in orthopaedics which is at the metaphorical heart of this technology?
Well, it is my passion which is hard to park. I come from a medical family - my dad is a surgeon. When I was younger, we always joked about how with my hayfever I was scared of sneezing whilst operating if I became a surgeon. However, when I became a medical student and went into the operating theatre, I remember being immediately in awe. The process of surgery is very technical and key hole surgery in particular I always visualised it as a somewhat sophisticated computer game.