May 22, 2024By Teresa Gore

SimX VR: A Cost-Effective Revolution in Medical Simulation Training

The future of Virtual Reality (VR) medical simulation training relies on the successful integration into curricula to stimulate shared clinical experiences. However, budget considerations often keep many from truly exploring all that VR has to offer. In this article, the objective is to simplify decision-making by laying out the clear cost benefits of including VR in any training curriculum. Here are some answers to common questions that may be asked to determine the true value of the implementation of a comprehensive and immersive VR program like SimX VR.

How Does the Cost of VR Compare to Traditional Manikin-based Simulation Training?

VR training requires less maintenance, equipment, and manpower than traditional manikin simulation. VR simulation saves on essential space and time and the value is reflected in very real cost savings. Overall, virtual reality simulation education was found to require 22% less time than high-fidelity simulation education. The cost associated with the virtual reality simulation was found to be 40% less expensive than the high-fidelity simulation. This figure does not include the cost of replacing physical manikins when they inevitably degrade. With comparatively minimal setup and maintenance costs, VR is far less expensive than manikin sim programs.

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Traditional Manikin Simulation Provides:

  • High-Fidelity Options
  • Requires Physical Manikins
  • Can Run a Few Scenarios per Hour
  • Messy, Time-Consuming Preparation and Limited Realism
  • Infrequent with Limited Access

VR Patient Encounters Provides:

  • High-Fidelity Training 100% of the Time
  • Requires a Simple Wireless VR Headset
  • Can Run 30+ Scenarios per Hour
  • All Messes are Virtual
  • Scenarios Maintain a High Level of Medical Accuracy
  • Repeatable an Infinite Number of Times with Standardized Content

Specific costs differ greatly depending on the size of the simulation lab, the frequency and duration of the clinical simulation sessions, and the support / facilitating staff available. While this comparison can help educators realize the direct benefits of VR simulation, most use cases include utilizing VR to supplement experiential learning and building more robust simulation experiences.

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We Already Have Manikins and a Traditional Sim Lab, So Why is a VR Training Needed?

Introducing VR into a simulation center does not mean does not mean the traditional manikin simulation supplies are discarded from the simulation center. VR can be a great way to supplement other simulations, experiential learning, and traditional lectures or training sessions. Here are a few ways VR can enhance a healthcare simulation lab:

  • Independent Learning: Students can practice scenarios on their own in between lectures. Any learner can get into a headset in any empty space to train whenever they have time.
  • Knowledge Retention: Utilize VR to support traditional lectures and ensure greater knowledge retention. Learners can apply classroom concepts in an experiential virtual environment. Repeated Actions: Students and trainees may only be able to utilize physical manikins once or twice during a rotation. However, with VR, learners can run through realistic and immersive virtual patient encounters again and again.
  • Psychosocial Training: With VR, learners can practice therapeutic communication and other vital social skills while communicating with virtual patients, NPCs, and other healthcare providers. This is almost impossible to accomplish with physical manikins.
  • Feedback and Simulation Analysis: The SimX system automatically generates advanced assessments and reports after each completed scenario. Educators and facilitators can utilize these tools to provide comprehensive feedback tailored to each individual or team.

View the LEARN CE/CME Platform Webinar Above and Beyond Reality: How Air Methods Elevates Critical Care Training with SimX VR to learn more!

‌While purchasing VR training software like that found at SimX may introduce an initial cost for headsets and system access, the longevity of VR is truly unparalleled. With some simple maintenance, headsets can last much longer than traditional manikins. Additionally, learners can put on a headset and begin training in less than 5 minutes compared to lengthy set-ups for manikins that often require specialized preparation and moulage.

Beth Culross, PhD, RN, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a a current SimX customer states, “From a cost-efficiency perspective, VR is a game changer to me because it is so much more cost-effective for universities to use, even just from the amount of space that you need.”

Is VR Worth the Money Invested?

Here is a list of what is purchased with one SimX license:

  • Access to a growing marketplace of over 250 virtual patient encounters for EMS, nurses, physicians, and military personnel at every learning level
  • Access to all future updates and new scenarios
  • The SimX patented multiplayer functionality; 4+ learners can gather around one virtual patient!
  • Infinite downloads of the moderator software
  • The ability to perform remote training sessions
  • Access to advanced assessment and reporting tools
  • Personalized customer training and onboarding

What is the Future of a Sim Center?

Investing in VR can revolutionize how learners and educators practice simulation. Many SimX customers are already utilizing VR to train remotely with learners and educators around the world. Instead of paying for individuals to travel long distances and attend in-person training sessions, educators are loading up SimX and performing vital team training techniques in immersive virtual environments.

One SimX user, Jenny Patton, RN, BSN, Simulation Operation Specialist at Cleveland Clinic, discussed the true value of VR simulation training, “I would recommend SimX VR technology to anyone. I wholeheartedly believe in the software and the technology. The fact is that SimX right now is the only multiplayer system where I can have multiple students in the same room running that scenario. And those students don’t even have to be in the same physical location. So that is very important, especially when you’re trying to cut down on cost and travel when running multiple sites for your medical students.”

Can an Educator Afford to Build Custom Simulations that Meet Specific Learner Needs?

Absolutely! With the in-house SimX development team, the educator can create truly unique patient encounters and add the created scenarios to the world’s largest VR simulation marketplace. Every SimX partner that adds custom cases to the SimX marketplace has the opportunity to share their content with other users. SimX knows accessibility and collaboration are a huge part of creating the right educational experiences for learners worldwide. Those who contribute to the marketplace get their content published on the SimX platform and receive 50% of the revenue from each custom case that users download.

SimX continues to build scenarios that are immersive, realistic, accessible, and cost-effective in collaboration with partnered institutions worldwide. As more scenarios are built, the marketplace catalog grows even larger than the current count of 250+ unique cases and patient encounters.

SimX also offers a Virtual Manikin for educators to customize scenarios in real-time. The SimX Virtual Manikin Series is a customizable collection of simulated patient encounters that allows educators to select patient avatars, environments, and scenario outcomes to create thousands of unique simulated patient encounters with one simple and customizable tool. With the SimX Virtual Manikin series, training is no longer a static, rigid experience but an engaging and immersive encounter with true-to-life tools, environments, and patient interactions. Unlike traditional manikins, the Virtual Manikin can respond to and interact with learners to better gain and retain true-to-life clinical skills and knowledge. Full access to the SimX Virtual Manikin–including a wireless headset–costs $1,000 USD.

Considering the number of case permutations possible with the Virtual Manikin, this cost cannot be compared to a physical manikin. One would have to purchase multiple high-fidelity manikins that cost thousands of dollars each to replicate the Virtual Manikin experience.

Dr. Gregory Yurasek, Director of Education for Cardiac ICU at Children’s National Hospital, said: “What I would say when it comes to cost for four headsets and a year of support with SimX is that developing new modules costs less than one high-fidelity manikin. So you pay a bit upfront for sure, but then you have the support for a couple of years, and you can develop new material all the time. The field that I work in is very, very unique. And the problems that our postoperative students have are rare and very high acuity. So we’ve developed all of the modules from scratch with SimX, and that’s been a testament to the relationship between the two parties.”

The Facility Does Not Have a Budget for Simulation Technology. How Can We Afford VR?

While SimX fully believes in the accessibility of VR technology for every institution, funding may still be difficult to build a VR sim center. An institution can receive money to pay for innovative technologies in many ways. The most common is through various grant programs. Grant funding can come from both federal and state sources. Find out what funding is available in the state by searching for opportunities through the Department of Education. In the search for federal funding or funding through third-party institutions, keep in mind that these opportunities are more likely to be research-based and require a lot of time, resources, and planning, which may not align with the goals and objectives of every facility.

Revolutionize A Simulation Center

Exploring and utilizing SimX scenarios is a great way to revolutionize any simulation center. New and emerging technologies can be intimidating and inaccessible, especially when considering other budget demands. Simplify the process by trying VR training and discovering firsthand the full cost benefit of this growing simulation technology.

Learn More About SimX and the SimX Marketplace!


  • J. D. Fletcher, Alexander P. Wind, Cost Considerations in Using Simulations for Medical Training, Military Medicine, Volume 178, Issue suppl_10, October 2013, Pages 37–46, .
  • Bumbach, Michael D. PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, RN; Culross, Beth A. PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, CHSE; Datta, Santanu K. PhD. Assessing the Financial Sustainability of High-Fidelity and Virtual Reality Simulation for Nursing Education: A Retrospective Case Analysis. CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing: September 2022 – Volume 40 – Issue 9 – p 615-623.

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