March 1, 2022By Lance Baily

IMSH 2022 PressBox: XR Panel on New Digital & Remote Healthcare Simulation Technology

During IMSH 2022, and the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSiH) had the exciting opportunity to interview leaders from across the clinical simulation industry on a variety of topics. One such topic, extended reality (XR), has become increasingly popular across the field of healthcare simulation as this method of learning provides high-fidelity educational environments for those training to become medical professionals. Through the use of XR products, solutions, and other resources, learners have been provided a way to continue their training, despite the impact COVID-19 has had on medical instruction. Further, XR simulation training, which is generated by computer graphics and wearables, increases patient safety while working to reduce medical error!

During this PressBox discussion, panelists David King Lassman, CEO of GIGXR, Chris Ingwalson, Chief Revenue Officer at Health Scholars, and Bob Armstrong the past president of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (and Executive Director of the Sentara Center for Simulation and Immersive Learning) discuss ways that new digital and remote distance learning technologies have really come about in the past two years, largely in part of the global pandemic. The panelists share what this has meant, not only for society but for the various companies and the industry and community-at-large. This article shares the panel conversation in hopes that it will spark similar conversations within medical simulation centers, institutions, and facilities worldwide. Read part of the IMSH 2022 PressBox interview below the full video here:

Lance Baily: So David, tell us a little bit about GIGXR and what [the company] has seen over the past two years.

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David King Lassman: Quite an interesting story actually. We kicked off our business at the beginning of 2020, and our platform is a mixed reality platform for the distribution of holographic content for healthcare learning. Sure. The idea was predicated on students being in the same place at the same time, interacting with content, and using a mixed reality headset, like the Microsoft Hololens. No sooner had our products hit the market, than the pandemic hit and our customer base went away overnight.

At that moment we saw an opportunity because we were able to engineer relatively quickly a remote layer that allowed our customers, more importantly, our students, many of whom were distributed across the country, to join an instructor-led lesson and view holographic content, using the mobile devices as a conduit onto that content effectively. They were at home using their phones while the instructor, maybe over zoom or in the tool itself was helping them to understand what they were looking at. The way to think about that is that the content is not on the device itself, but it’s effectively broadcasting to the space that they happen to be in. It’s
In the cloud.

They can get up and walk around that content. This is incredibly powerful because a lot of student nurses for instance require a certain amount of SIM hours in order to qualify. Because they weren’t on campus, they weren’t getting that experience. Through extended reality and through systems like ours, we were bringing that simulation to them. In a post-COVID world, I think that will persist. We’ll see campuses relying less on the brick and mortar of the simulation and say, “Hey, we can bring this simulation to wherever the students happen to be. That’s quite a powerful new paradigm.”

Lance Baily: Chris, talk to us a little bit about Health Scholars and what [the company has] seen and experienced, over the past two years.

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Chris Ingwalson: A little bit of, a similar story. We started in 2019, and then the pandemic hit. We’re very focused on protocol-driven training for high-risk scenarios, and solving a scaling issue, even before the pandemic started. What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is a shift within the hospital space. They are having to get more creative in how they fill gaps around the continuum of education. From your initial nurse onboarding to figuring out how to upskill, reskill, and now I think even more recently, the cross-training of nurses. How can you quickly take someone and potentially give them the simulation experience that they need to get them to move into another department to cover the surges within COVID?

We’ve really seen interest in being able to leverage virtual reality for that and give them the same simulation experience-based learning, but do it in a way that’s easier to scale. [This means] being able to bring the simulation to them versus them having to go out and get the training somewhere else, or doing it on a day off or in interrupt shifts that are already pretty tough right now.

Lance Baily: So Bob, you and I have had a chance to hang out online through XR technologies over the past year a couple of times. So great to see you in person. I’d love to know what’s going on with the simulation center and also from your perspective, what’s going on [with SSH]. Let’s start with your center in terms of XR technologies.

Bob Armstrong: Our center adapted to COVID by essentially flipping our business model on its head. We provide service to the school of medicine and school of health professions, but we have about 90 external clients that we provide services to. We generate revenue through those services, and all that external revenue activity pretty much went away because everybody was just trying to figure out what was okay to do. We were ill-prepared, like almost every simulation center, to shift into a virtual model.

We didn’t have the right kind of virtual video teleconference. We didn’t have an understanding of how we were gonna execute in that space. We spent the first two months just figuring out how we were going to conduct business. It was really just about how do we meet the bare minimum required to get to the end of the semester? That’s just a very pragmatic approach to this mission.

From my discussions with every other simulation center executive director or director, everybody was facing the exact same thing. We were just trying to get to the end of the day without having a stroke. In the ensuing time, we’ve figured out how to have a mix of both in-person and virtual, but all of our virtual rights now are still a face-to-face experience over a platform like Zoom. If we’re not doing it in-person and part of that’s okay because 75% of what we do is standardized patient-based. In our simulation center, the 25% that’s not is being supported by the residency program.

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Check Out These Additional Healthcare Simulation COVID-19 Resources

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