April 23, 2020By Lance Baily

CNN Covers Healthcare Simulation Advances From COVID-19

As countless healthcare programs have needed to rapidly change educational and training programs in rapid course due to COVID-19, the unfortunate situation is acting as a catalyst in one positive way. Healthcare Simulation programs around the world are quickly learning about and implementing the benefits of virtual training platforms to temporarily replace and/or augment their current physical manikin simulations with digital distance learning opportunities. In a rare expose on the medical simulation industry, CNN Business’s Samantha Murphy Kelly learned more about our industry and its powerful new tools for educating via VR!

Doctors and nurses are using VR to learn skills to treat coronavirus patients” CNN Article Excerpt By Samantha Murphy Kelly:

At Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, more than 300 doctors have learned skills, such as how to assess a patient’s symptoms or perform CPR while wearing protective gear, through VR. “It feels like you are in the room with a patient,” said Russell Metcalfe-Smith, the director of the Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which has been rapidly training staff for COVID-19. “Based on the decisions you make in the simulation, one direction will lead to another. We have [doctors] jump quickly into a virtual environment like this to get them to where they need to be.”

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“We’ve found it very valuable to observe a [doctor’s thinking] process — and it’s all been done with social distancing,” Metcalfe-Smith said. “Because we can’t get large groups together right now, we’ve had to rely on technology like this to give the same experience — and we’re grateful for that.” The hospital uses software from startup Virti, which provides detailed feedback and metrics on which procedures medical professionals may need more practice with. Cedars-Sinai started using the program in January but rolled it out to more health professionals in mid-March as the outbreak spread.

“We wanted the exercises to embody what is happening in the real-world right now,” said Virti founder Dr. Alex Young. “One simulation puts the user alone in an isolation room, where they can see nurses and doctors come in and out, so they can get an idea of how scary it is for patients. It’s easy to forget the basics of communicating through the masks, so scenarios like this help with bedside manner.”

Boston-based Oxford Medical Simulation is also focused on improving the decision-making process for practitioners in emergency situations. Its scenarios range from how to efficiently and safely put on protective gear to more intensive situations with sick patients.

“The concept is so doctors and nurses can make mistakes in virtual reality and learn from them,” said founder and chief medical officer Dr. Jack Pottle, who launched the service in 2018. “Some physicians are coming directly from medical school and thrown into practice, or are retired doctors and nurses not necessarily trained in the areas needed for safely treating people with COVID-19. These simulations help get them up to speed and feel more confident about it, too.”

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Even before the pandemic, schools were using these tools to train the next generation of medical professionals. Some schools, including New York University, Middlesex University and University of New England, have adopted similar programs with nursing students to get them ready for graduation. “Before we closed for the semester, we had labs open with eight Oculus Rift headset setups,” said Dawne-Marie Dunbar, the director of the Interprofessional Simulation and Innovation Center at the University of New England. Students are still required to remotely complete Oxford’s simulations through a mobile phone or tablet after they learn about certain conditions in virtual class.

“We prefer to have them in headsets because it’s more immersive, but many are accessing the program on a mobile device right now,” she said. “It’s still a key way to teach skills they will have to perform often or give them exposure to high-risk conditions that need to be managed correctly.”

“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to the training,” said Carol DerSarkissian, a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, which is currently using Oxford’s platform to train students. “Part of becoming a good doctor is the experience of taking care of similar cases over and over and learning from each one. [The clinical simulations] help with new skills and build their confidence before entering the frontlines — and allow for that opportunity without putting anyone at risk.”

Read the Full CNN Article Here!

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