Interactive Radiotherapy Planning for Students
Traditionally, computer based radiotherapy planning is generally manually based and teaches students dose distribution or is equipment specific, but is far removed from routine radiotherapy planning and can therefore be unrealistic in practical terms.
A need was identified for a computer based training programme which teaches the physical principles of planning techniques – the craft of planning – independent of specific equipment suppliers, that can be remotely monitored by a training supervisor or mentor and is progressive and can be used by all clinical staff from students to more experienced staff who need to enhance their radiology training.
IRPS (Interactive Radiotherapy Planning for Students) is a software package that teaches the basic principles of planning external beam radiotherapy treatments. It is an interactive, on-line training system for radiotherapy staff, students and trainee doctors in the uses of radiotherapy. IRPS teaches the fundamental principles which underlie planning techniques, and includes interactive examples to test the students’ understanding. It also presents patient outlines and guides users towards producing a clinically acceptable dose distribution.
IRPS provides a complete computer-based training programme:
- Part 1 teaches the fundamental principles that underlie planning techniques and includes interactive tests.
- Part 2 presents patient outlines and guides the users towards producing a clinically acceptable dose distribution.
IRPS also allows a supervisor to remotely monitor students as they work through prepared course content on line. They can view the number of attempts and eliminate guessing etc as well as provide valuable feedback and allow progression on to next course modules. All the course content has been peer reviewed and is accredited as part of directed undergraduate/post graduate training within the UK medical training curriculum.
The benefits of this training programme are: better trained staff and safer patients. IRPS does not reduce the number of interventions a patient requires but means that new staffs are more confident to deliver them, hence less likelihood of incorrect dose for patients. IRPS is a cost effective way of training healthcare professionals in clinical planning in Radiology. Its use may be tailored to suit newcomers to radiotherapy planning, or experienced staff who wish to hone existing skills. IRPS is suitable for all staff groups who require an in-depth understanding of computer-based radiotherapy planning including: radiation oncologists, MTOs/dosimetrists, radiographers, medical physicists.
IRPS was developed by John Conway and Stephen Tozer-Loft in the Radiotherapy Physics Department at Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS FoundationTrust. It has now been used clinically at Weston Park for over 20 years and has been sold to many hundreds of individuals, medical physics departments and schools of radiography, both in the UK and internationally. Medipex were approached to help market IRPS worldwide and to improve the logistics associated with licensing software to multiple users. They developed an e-commerce platform and an appropriate licensing model and have negotiated a number of multiple user licenses with diverse organisations such as The Open University as well as a number of foreign Medical Schools.
IRPS was awarded the HBO/InfoRAD prize at Radiology 97 for original IT development.