November 29, 2022By Kirk Atkinson

A Quick Guide to Birthing Simulators & OBGYN Simulation

Healthcare simulation as a whole is mainly about teaching the practice of medicine to achieve heightened patient safety. One of the areas of medical simulation that has yielded some of the most dramatic arguments in favor of promoting clinical simulation across education is Obstetrics and Gynecological-based simulation. The practice of simulated care for both mother and child up to and after the birthing process goes back to the 1600s. Obstetrics and Gynecological (OBGYN) simulation is a pillar of healthcare simulation, and the market has been and always will always be perplexing. This article by Kirk Atkinson, a Simulation Operations Specialist at UT Southwestern, discusses the different types of OBGYN-based simulators available and shares a quick guide approach to purchasing the proper simulator for each respective healthcare simulation program.

Types of OBGYN-based Medical Simulators Available

Task trainers: Of the available OBGYN-based simulation solutions, the task trainer is the lowest on the scale of fidelity. However, where there is a lack of fidelity, the OBGYN-based task trainer market compensates with variety. The OBGYN-based task trainer market has simulators to help teach almost every aspect of the Obstetric and Gynecological medical practice.

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On the market, there exist task trainers for female-based exams, pregnancy-based scenarios, and post-labor-based practices. These task trainers display a number of regular and uncommon physiological characteristics that have a high level of detail to help increase participant buy-in. The OBGYN-based task trainers are specifically made only to encompass a specific area of OBGYN medical practice, such as childbirth or pelvic exams. The realism is only extended to that specific area of OBGYN medical practice, which leaves a task trainer to only be a female pelvis with no arms or legs to interact with for example.

One other aspect of the OBGYN-based task trainer that may be appealing is the cost. Usually, task trainers, in general, will be priced lower than a high-fidelity medical simulator. With the popularity of OBGYN-themed medical simulators and the variety of task trainers available on the market, the price for OBGYN-based task trainers falls into a very affordable category amongst all healthcare simulators.

Wearables: Amongst the large selection of healthcare simulation teaching tools there is a type of tool that is growing in popularity, the wearable simulator. This type of medical simulation teaching tool is not a new idea but an idea that has recently gained attention for the wearable’s ability to add the element of a live actor to play the part of the patient. More specifically, in OBGYN-based medical simulations, there is a large difference between having the sound of a woman played over a speaker and actually having a woman speak directly to the participant. The price for a wearable medical simulator can vary depending on complexity but the overall market is still on the affordable side.

Full Simulators: Currently, the gold standard for the practice of any medical simulation, including OBGYN-based medical simulation is the high-fidelity manikin. With the ability to display a number of different conditions, all on the same “patient” who is always ready to be the “patient”, the high-fidelity OBGYN simulator can be found in many healthcare simulation programs. The high-fidelity OBGYN simulator is like most high-end items, you get what you pay for. The higher the price point of a medical simulator will mostly translate into more heightened realism, more features, and an easier-to-understand user interface. The trade-off for higher fidelity in an OBGYN simulator is fewer simulators to choose from.

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Steps to Choosing an OBGYN-based Medical Simulator

Conduct a needs assessment (from the target audience, what are they looking for) In choosing what OBGYN medical simulation platform is a good fit, there are a few steps any healthcare simulation program should follow: conduct a needs assessment, collect as much data on the products available, analyze the available budget, get hands-on with the equipment, and look at the projected return on investment.

In a needs assessment, a list of the both simulation center’s and the target audience’s goals and objectives for an OBGYN-based simulation program will aid in steering the purchasing process. A needs assessment will help by listing the abilities that the OBGYN simulation program must offer and any medical simulation product that does not offer up those abilities can easily be eliminated.

The next step in choosing the right OBGYN-based medical simulator is information gathering on the available medical simulation products. This may sound tedious and time-consuming but the process of product shopping has easy mode. Most, if not all, medical simulation companies have representatives that cover a certain geographic area. A quick inquiry on the company’s website will most likely get the ball rolling on having a representative reach out. From there, once the representative knows the specifics of a request, they will tailor a list and even a quote of items that the needs assessment listed as a necessity.

Having a representative gather information on medical simulation products may not be the way to go for every healthcare simulation program, but utilizing that option can help save time and possibly money. A quick search of a medical simulation company’s website can help render similar results as a representative, minus some of the finer details of purchasing such as discounted pricing, any other programs that may be utilizing a product, and support after purchase.

With the equipment information in hand, now is the time to take a look at the available budget. An argument could be made that the available purchasing budget should be considered before equipment shopping, but having more information is always better than having less information, even if it is knowing that a particular healthcare simulator is too expensive. Every healthcare simulation center has a different budget and budgeting approach so particulars in the process are not crucial here except to note that when budgeting for a new OBGYN-based simulator, the most allowed amount should be in consideration in lieu of being only frugal.

An area to explore for extra capital in purchasing a new medical simulator is grants. OBGYN-based simulators may fall into a category for special funding by grants offered either through the government or private enterprise.

In budgeting for a new OBGYN-based simulator, or any medical simulator or task trainer, a long logic-based look at the return on investment is necessary. This medical simulator being purchased is an investment and any quality investment should reciprocate. Return on investment compensation can vary depending on a healthcare simulation center’s business model, in the form of learner hours logged or actual capital for the pay-to-play medical simulation programs.

The next step and arguably one of the most important steps over the long term will be to get hands on the particular OBGYN-based simulators that fit both the needs assessment and allowed budget. A hands-on session with the OBGYN-based simulator should not only be restricted to the sim center staff but to the professionals that are going to be practicing with the simulator. Sim center staff will need to analyze the ease of use, setup, repair, and consumables.

The medical field of Obstetrics and Gynecology is one that is filled with complications and challenges. As long as those complications and challenges exist, there will be practitioners that seek out medical simulations and simulators to help teach past those shortcomings. The market is full of innovative solutions and devices to aid the practitioner’s journey for a safer OBGYN-based healthcare experience. Completing a needs and budget assessment, gathering medical simulator product information, and putting hands on the medical simulation equipment will put any healthcare simulation program on the right track for choosing the best pregnancy/birthing simulator for their program.

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