March 28, 2019By Lance Baily

Top 10 IT Issues of 2018 Translated for Medical Simulation

Recently Educause reviewed the “Top 10 IT Issues of 2018” dubbing the year the “Remaking of Higher Education”. When starting a new medical simulation program, so many Healthcare Simulation Champions fail to fully understand the level of IT understanding, support, and collaborative development needed to successfully operated a simulation lab or simulation center. Today we take a look at these Top 10 IT Issues, but add a lens of Clinical Simulation to the topics to help your program consider innovative solutions. Looking for more IT courses related to Simulation in Healthcare? Learn more about the SimGHOSTS 2019 Miami and Singapore events to train in healthcare simulation technologies!

Educase Top 10 IT Issues of 2018

Technology has often served as a back-burner activity at many higher education institutions. The IT director would be called in to the president’s office to defend the growing IT budget, to explain the cause of a major data breach, and (less commonly) to advise on strategy. But in recent years, and with increasing magnitude, information technology has had other impacts on the institution—ones potentially more profound and beneficial than a noticeable slice of the budget or an ongoing source of risk.

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1. Information Security: Developing a risk-based security strategy that keeps pace with security threats and challenges.

Our take: Did you know that your wifi-connected manikin could be used as a means to breach network security? While this truth must be dealt with, we have met countless Sim Techs who don’t inform IT departments about the wifi enabled patient simulator because IT will confiscate the device for inspection and approval, adding countless levels of bureaucracy to simple running a simulation. Finding a balance between these two extremes takes mutual respect and understanding between simulation program administrators and IT department administrators!

2. Student Success: Managing the system implementations and integrations that support multiple student success initiatives.

Our take: How do you manage your student learning in an age of digital technology? Examine your institutional and sim program missions, and you should see that student learning is a core value which all other decisions should be based. This means being brave enough to invite students into the process of evaluating where your simulation technology is, and where it should be. Understanding the kinds of access students will need, and how to protect their data and your own, are crucial components in the ongoing and successful operations of a simulation program. Especially as technology adopts, and new technologies arrive for utilization.

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Institution-wide IT Strategy: Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner of institutional leadership in achieving institutional missions.

Our take: Securing the highest level of institutional support is crucial for a simulation program to succeed. Why? Because IT is a core requirement, and a department usually outside of your program’s control. Creating a lasting partnership built on trust and respect between your simulation program and IT administration is paramount! This will help to create and foster the development of an institutional strategy towards simulation technologies that can flexibly fit your needs as both department’s work together to learn about using these emerging educational and training systems. No relationship, no strategy: No strategy, no success. Period!

Data-enabled Institutional Culture: Using BI and analytics to inform the broad conversation and answer big questions.

Our take: Ongoing assessment is a crucial component to successful simulation technology integration. Debriefing staff following simulation events, and debriefing following new technology integrations should be core standard operating procedures. Start to keep track of the data NOW — so that when the question comes up of how much more simulation the team can produce, you already know what energies it takes to be successful at the current level. Go around the board room table of stakeholders invested in helping your simulation program grow, and ask if each person and their department will commit to tracking and sharing core data with others at the table. A willingness to self-assess is required to grow through new technologies.

Student-centered Institution: Understanding and advancing technology’s role in defining the student experience on campus (from applicants to alumni).

Our take: Walk around your campus, everyone is looking at their cell phones. Technology is ubiquitous — but some of your faculty may want to “do it the way we’ve always done it” or ask “we have taught this way forever, we don’t need to change”. These actual quotes demonstrate a bias against change which in no way aligns to the current trends of technology utilization. Faster, more powerful systems, applications, and tools are becoming available every day — and holding on to anything that was prevents your program from building the future. Mark our words, students will flock to institutions that understand and appreciate their connection to technology, leaving institutions without such cares towards a door with nothing behind it.

Higher Education Affordability: Balancing and rightsizing IT priorities and budget to support IT-enabled institutional efficiencies and innovations in the context of institutional funding realities.

Our take: All of the above comes down to one major reality: IT takes time and money. If you secure grant funding for a new surgical simulator, where are the funds for the ongoing operational support, maintenance, repair and replacement? Think of a manikin like a car, you own it — but who is going to pay for the gas, oil change, upkeep and more?

IT Staffing and Organizational Models: Ensuring adequate staffing capacity and staff retention in the face of retirements, new sourcing models, growing external competition, rising salaries, and the demands of technology initiatives on both IT and non-IT staff.

Our take: Does your simulation program have a full-time simulation technology specialist to help manage your simulation technologies? Or does your program expect a Master’s prepared Nurse to also have 5+ years of IT experience? How much budget is allocated to Sim Tech training to understand new technologies in Healthcare Simulation or ways to fix common problems? Running simulation means running technology, and if your program has not yet hit the milestone of hiring simulation technician support — it will one day!  The sooner, the better we say!

Data Management and Governance: Implementing effective institutional data governance practices.

Our take: This follows from the strategy point above — there must be a way to track and manage practices that still provides flexibility in use as much as possible.

Digital Integrations: Ensuring system interoperability, scalability, and extensibility, as well as data integrity, standards, and governance, across multiple applications and platforms

Our take: How many “smart phones” have you used so far? Do you still use an 1987 Apple 2ci as your primary means of word processing? It won’t even connect to the internet! Bottom line: technology changes rapidly, and having the support of team-members whose primary responsibility includes understanding how sub-systems will integrate across the learning continuum is a must. We have all had technology fail on us, do we honestly think that once simulation is up and running it will stay that way forever without hiccup? No way! Everything in your sim lab will be obsolete within 10 years. Scary, but true!

Change Leadership: Helping institutional constituents (including the IT staff) adapt to the increasing pace of technology change.

Our take: People retire, move, change careers, or simply quit! Having a plan for the simulation program to continue regardless of who currently controls the functionality is crucial to long-term success. Countless Simulation Managers have told us their programs took a 180 degree turn for the worse after a specific champion left the institution (usually citing a lack of respect from higher administration regarding their role in simulation). Planning for staff turnover, actively supporting and professionally developing your staff, and building a team backed by updated standard operating procedures is crucial.

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Check out the full Educase Article for More Solutions Regarding These Issues!

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