What can Formula One teach us about improving advanced coronary interventions?

The F1 car comes roaring into the pit. There’s a blur of motion, and just a few seconds later the car slams back onto the track. What does this ama...

November 30, 2020
Stacy Hammar, Dominic Steffel, et al

The F1 car comes roaring into the pit. There’s a blur of motion, and just a few seconds later the car slams back onto the track. What does this amazing feat have to do with advanced coronary interventions? Quite a bit it turns out. Here’s what high-performance racing teams can teach high-performance cath lab teams to help them stay at the top of their game and provide outstanding care.


Practice. Practice. Practice.

The heart of it all is teamwork and that takes practice. The Formula One can be won or lost in a single braking maneuver or a single pit stop. To keep driver skills sharp, the Red Bull F1 team uses a highly sophisticated simulator. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull racing driver says, "It is a simulator but the feeling is really close to the feelings we get in an F1 car." Gasly spends around 30 days in the simulator a year. "It's good to get into the rhythm of racing to get back on your marks, your braking points and the racing lines.”

The twenty mechanics on the pit crew train just as intensively to change four wheels and make other minute adjustments in mere seconds. They practice this maneuver in dry runs, thousands of times a season, until it becomes autonomous. Everyone has to hit their marks. Because the slightest misjudgment can cost you points in the race or worse yet, injuries to your crew or driver.

The stakes are even higher for interventional cardiologists and their cath lab teams. In a recent conversation with Mentice, Dr. Jens Flensted Lassen, Professor of Cardiology and founding member of the European Bifurcation Club said, “For experienced operators, it’s especially important to practice complex procedures in dry-training. These are highly trained specialists and they might perform 200 PCIs a year, but how often do they have complex cases like bifurcation lesions requiring two stents or CTOs? Even as a high volume operator, I may only encounter a specific two-stent technique 2 or 3 times a year. We have to ask ourselves, how much exposure to these techniques is enough to competently manage such complex procedures?”

To meet this need, a growing number of experienced interventionalists are using high-fidelity simulators to build their proficiency in complex coronary interventions. These systems enable interventional cardiologists and their teams to develop strategies and practice every single step of the most technically and mentally challenging situations – until they become second nature for the entire team.


Staying calm under pressure

Working under pressure is another key aspect. Whether you’re taking corners at 200 kph or facing the car as it comes screaming off the track, you have to have nerves of steel to work on an F1 team. That’s when the countless training sessions kick in. This is especially true for the interventionalist and their cath lab team. When you are trying to restore flow to an acute left main occlusion, for instance, you need to work very quickly with two wires and recall every step like you did it yesterday, not a year ago. Training without a patient in a safe and simulated environment can meet this need, while also providing ethical benefits.

CTO-Angio 05122-01 IMG 05.20

Training in a safe, simulated environment gives interventional cardiologists the opportunity to try out new techniques and drill on unlikely situations that might put the operator and their team off kilter, until every step becomes autonomous. More importantly, this gives time to evaluate mistakes with each other and understand the reasoning behind different steps. On the Coronary Advanced software, for example, they can practice everything from DK-crush in bifurcation lesions to effectively changing crossing strategy in complex CTOs and performing time-critical high-risk AMIs. As the operator and team become more experienced with handling each challenge, they can build their confidence in each other and in their ability to perform well in a high-pressure situation.


Consistent flow

High-performance teams outperform others because they work in a more consistent flow together and have a continuous improvement mindset. It’s commonly known that the relationship a driver has with their vehicle is one of the most significant factors which set two drivers apart. It can take years for a racing driver to develop a relationship with their car, so they can feel the slightest differences. And between races drivers will say things like, “The car felt strong today” or “I couldn’t get a good feeling with the car.”

Interventional cardiologists know how much training and sensitivity is required when manipulating clinical devices within the patient’s body. You have to be able to feel the ever so slight difference between normal resistance and excessive resistance, which is the difference between the presence or absence of plaque or the all-important entrance to a side branch.

During a recent review, Dr. Lassen, experienced the sensitivity and responsiveness on the latest coronary software solution from Mentice. “This is a giant leap forward as it mimics the resistances felt during interventions and is the closest feeling to reality one can experience besides performing real cases. With this, the system becomes relevant for even experienced operators.” This level of realism is the result of 20 years of relentless engineering advancement embodied in our seventh generation VIST® G7+ platform with HapticRealism™ technology.

Last thoughts

At Mentice we recognize that even though experienced operators go through years of training and education, the evolution of new devices and more complex patients requires continuous learning and adaptation across all interventional procedures. Complex techniques are used so rarely that it’s important, even for physicians that perform high volumes of procedures to maintain their proficiency on these techniques. Our innovative endovascular simulation solutions provide the optimal environment for proficiency-based training to help you and your teams perform better during interventional procedures and improve outcomes for both physicians and patients. Find out more at our website mentice.com/coronary-advanced or get in touch with us to arrange a demo.




1    Holt, S. (2016, July 1). Simulating success: The giant video game that trains world champions. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/01/motorsport/formula-one-red-bull-racing-simulator-feature/index.html

Photo by gustavo Campos on Unsplash

Scott Bellchambers - YouTube - 2013 Melbourne F1, poetry in motion - youtube.com//watch?v=aHSUp7msCIE

Join us today

To always stay on top within the field of medical simulation and its development subscribe to our news and resource list

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.