August 9, 2022By Courtney Washington

Considerations for Integrating an LMS in Healthcare Simulation Centers

A healthcare simulation center serves as much more than a brick-and-mortar space for clinicians to participate and practice soft- and hard-core skills in a replicated medical environment. Medical Simulation centers can also act as an innovative hub for the development of collaborative interactions between departments for systemic improvements across an entire institution. However, advancing a simulation program to this higher level of functionality will almost certainly require the use of a Learning Management System (LMS) to help automate and operationalize support of all daily aspects of a larger healthcare simulation center. As such, this article discusses considerations that should be made when integrating an LMS into a clinical simulation center.

Over the years, great strides have been made in the design and incorporation of innovative Learning Management Systems, including third-party vendors such as those available from CAE Healthcare and EMS SIMULATIONiQ. These types of LMS platforms work to standardize and administer medical and healthcare simulation operations in order to meet recognized industry standards. Specifically, an LMS can help schedule events across the entire space, provide pre and post-assessments for multiple departments (learners vs staff), overview all learners and their unique performances, export data for research purposes, manage a/v system controls and operation, connect remote and distance-based learners or simulation exercises, manage sharing properties for recorded content, as well as provide internal team communication systems and more.

As the long-term success of a healthcare simulation center can partly be attributed to the effectiveness of an LMS, the selection of which product to invest with is just as important as the architectural design of the space itself. To maximize the efficiency of your LMS procurement process, we must start with the identification of stakeholders and their specific needs. Included in that decision-making process we must also consider budget, integration installation, training, and adoption.

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Needs Assessment: Seeking Approval

Ensuring the identification of stakeholder needs prior to LMS selection is obviously a crucial starting point for meeting the needs of participating departments. At times, needs will overlap which helps to define the prioritization of necessary LMS functionality which is core to the majority of users. Depending on the level of knowledge within your stakeholder group, leadership may find the demonstration of various LMS tools helpful in understanding the potential features available for consideration. We highly recommend including technical representatives in this conversation from the earliest possible timeframe, which should include both your simulation technology specialists and your institution’s IT department.

With the identification of prioritized needs in hand, your administrative leadership will be better able to better consider budget limitations as part of a larger charter and eventual Request for Proposal (RFP) which would include the full scope of the procurement including scope, timeline, budget, needs list, possible exclusions or competitive exceptions, and more. Such a document is helpful for both internal and external communications to summarize expectations.

Plan on multiple conference calls and follow-up meetings with stakeholders to align all parties to the needs assessment as the process can take time to think through carefully. Measuring twice and cutting once is clearly the recommendation here, as the effort put into developing this document can save your program time, energy, and money in the long run.

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Implementation Team/Department Recommendations

Once the approval of the Learning Management System is accomplished, an implementation team should be identified next. This working group should similarly comprise some of the stakeholders, as well as technical representatives, to undertake assigned roles and responsibilities in support of the approved assessment. Here is an example of an implementation team member/department and roles outline:

  • Information Technology: Knowledgeable in managing computers, networks, cyber security, and other computer science technology aspects. Opportunity to address any issues related to server accessibility, software updates, and forecasting dysfunctions with primary functions of in-house and third-party Learning Management Systems.
  • Human Resources: Ability to house and retrieve employee information. Assign house-wide training applicable to Learning Management System needs. Verify and track compliance for state and board licensure governance.
  • Administrator: The liaison and point-of-contact for LMS end-users and vendors, oversee the daily LMS administrative operations, and assist with triaging help tickets/inquiries for the Learning Management System(s).
  • Project Manager: Creates charter and assists with needs assessment timeline information. Hosts implementation meetings, define roles and manage accountability of implementation members.
  • Finance Department: Handles budgets, quotes, contract renewals, and other consumable equipment and supplies for proposed assessments.

The diversity of the skills that each member of the integration team is especially important to ensure that all the various sub-groups are covered, including technical, clinical, and administrative at the very least. The commitment of each member to making appropriate decisions in a timely manner to achieve the goal of a successful Learning Management System integration is equally important!

Related Article: Future-Proof Your Medical Simulation Program with a Secure, Cloud-Based LMS

A Sustainability Approach to Learning Management System Workflow

After an implementation team has been established, and before the go-live Learning Management System integration approaches, the creation of a workflow is essential for successful integration and sustainability. A workflow should encompass a graphic overview of repeatable steps that identify tasks that encompass, who will complete the designated tasks, and who will provide the equipment/supplies needed for said tasks.

For example, CommLab India provides an abridged version of a simplified workflow Learning Management System (LMS) outline. The company shares that this LMS overview demonstrates the basis of agility of a workflow, which can be modified as necessary by the committed implementation team. This resource covers the use of an LMS for user registration, course activity enrollment, automated certification, and training report exportation.

Whether the training is instructor-led in a classroom, virtual classroom training, webinars, online, or mobile learning courses – educators can deliver and manage them all through one system with an LMS. Simulation champions can prepare a comprehensive training calendar for your multinational firm and organize training programs at various locations across the world sitting at their desk through an LMS.

Even after the success of a Learning Management System integration, a mindset for ongoing sustainability is crucial for a successful long-term LMS implementation. Documentation of workflow processes, automation functionality, and innovation toward resource support of simulated activities are a few key components needed for continuous evaluation. Monitoring how an LMS continues to meet the proposed needs of a clinical simulation center is integral, and so annual reviews are highly recommended – especially as new advances in LMS technology are regularly developed and should also be considered. All of the potentials here is certainly worth the effort!

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