January 9, 2023By Lance Baily

How Technology and Innovation Help Shape Healthcare Simulation

“Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice” is the leading medical simulation book for healthcare professionals starting or expanding their use of the emerging methodology to improve learning, training, and patient safety outcomes. From basic theories to advanced practices, this healthcare simulation book has been praised as a “must-read” by leading medical simulation experts around the world. This HealtyhSimulation.com article takes a closer look at chapter 19 which focuses on technology and innovation and was written by Nikita Joshi and Teresa Roman-Micek. Together, they discuss how healthcare simulation and technology go hand-in-hand.

This is because healthcare simulation utilizes technology to “recreate a clinical encounter or generate an experience with a procedure or patient interaction.” The authors explain that, while many hear the word technology and think of machines and robots, clinical simulation technology may look different. Medical simulation can include the use of expensive and complicated resources, but the practice can also rely upon commercially available products. An example they provide is how nurses used to use oranges to practice administering medications via injection.

Just as in the case of this example, decades of advances have helped revolutionize the technology available to medical learners. Now, healthcare simulation technologies can help provide more realistic, high-fidelity experiences. The goal of this book chapter was to provide an introduction to the various aspects of technology used across the medical simulation industry. Both Joshi and Roman-Micek hoped to inspire the creativity of the healthcare simulation technology specialist (HSTS) to explore beyond commercially available products. Through the information presented, the authors encourage HSTS to consider developing their own technology and ideas for simulation manikins, task trainers, and moulage – possibly even for commercial opportunities.

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First, before choosing a simulation technology modality, the authors recommend that a needs assessment be performed. They recommend that educational curriculum should incorporate instructional design theory, using PADDIE+M or Kern’s six-step model at the time of project planning and curriculum design.

“An important step in these models is deciding on the appropriate educational intervention. Simulation as a methodology consists of high-fidelity, low-fidelity, task trainers, standardized patients, and computer-based tools” the authors explain. “When planning the program, the educator needs to explain and discuss the learning objective and the training expectations with the HSTS.”

Joshi and Roman-Micek recommend HSTS consider the differences in resource and technology requirements in the two following examples:

1. Design a curriculum to teach medical students how to suture – with each student
provided their own model/pigs feet to practice upon.
2. Design an ultrasound-guided IV placement curriculum in an international and
low-resource setting.

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Another consideration the authors recommend HSTS take into account is how much fidelity is required when innovating and prototyping. They explain that, within healthcare simulation, the concept of fidelity is generally thought to refer to how realistic a customized model is to the
intended form. Yet, they note that fidelity can refer to the human body, components of the human body, the room environment including the sights, sounds, and associated smells, among anything else that is required in a simulation.

Trying to make all of these aspects completely realistic may not be necessary. The HSTS needs to weigh the importance and limitations of what cost, time, and human effort will be expended
to this end,” they wrote.

Further, Joshi and Roman-Micek note that, while healthcare simulation program administrators “should appreciate innovative product design that does not void warranties, some may feel strongly that working directly with vendors provides the best results for learner training using simulated devices.” They add that innovative products can be more cost-effective, but that they may create a situation where knowledge of how to utilize each product may become limited. Plus, they emphasize that the time an HSTS spends innovating a product is time spent away from other responsibilities.

“While manufacturers create manikins and task trainers, they are relative ‘one size fits all’ simulation tools. The HSTS is the most knowledgeable about what their program’s educators and learners specifically need,” the authors added.

There is currently a multitude of technologies and methods to help with adapting existing devices and prototyping new ones. For example, the authors share that ultrasound machines, video laryngoscopes, and other medical devices that come with an attached video display can also be connected to overhead screens for group sharing of media and images. Additionally, procedural or diagnostic video sharing can be pursued using a home-built system with direct cable connections to computer monitors or television displays in the simulation room space or through integration with larger video management solutions using video encoders.

There are also a variety of substances that help create the innovative tools and technologies HSTS currently employs, including elastomer, latex, silicone, gelatin, gel wax, 3D printing, and more. Overall, the authors conclude that embracing technology and innovation can lead to enhanced learning opportunities. They stress that HSTS should not be scared to experiment with various types of technology, and that thinking principles can be used to improve fidelity and learning outcomes for simulation participants. “Infinite possibilities await!”

Previously Chapter Excerpt Articles:

More key takeaways from the Latest Simulation Operations book include:

  • A practical guide helps prepare professionals for the broad scope of simulation in healthcare
  • Defines the domains of medical simulation operations
  • Focuses on the development of the healthcare simulation technology specialist

Written and edited by leaders in the field, Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice is optimized for a variety of learners, including healthcare educators, simulation directors, as well as those looking to pursue a career in simulation operations as healthcare simulation technology specialists. Grab your copy today through the following affiliate-commissioned links.

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