B-Line Medical Product Review
*Update 4/3/13* – B-Line Medical‘s A/V systems have gone through extensive modification since the time this article was written, and so parts of this article are now less relevant then 2 years ago.
B-Line provides A/V management solutions for healthcare education facilities specializing in technology based educational encounters, including standardized patients and high-fidelity simulations.
The Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas (CSCLV) has been a client of B-Line’s since August of 2009. Currently CSCLV uses “SimCapture”, “SimBridge” and “Clinical Skills” to manage their A/V hardware.
B-Line has several software packages for managing A/V systems at healthcare simulation labs and centers. “Clinical Skills” is B-Line’s first product designed to manage a hall of Standardized Patient (SP) encounters. “Sim Capture” is B-Line’s program specifically designed for high-fidelity simulation labs. “Sim Bridge” is B-Line’s scheduling and overall room management system, designed for centers with multiple “Sim Capture” units.
SimCapture units record two camera feeds, an audio feed, and a VGA feed (patient monitor). So basically, you will need one SimCapture per Sim Lab room, and perhaps two if you have more than one patient in a given area, like a Labor & Delivery Room. SimBridge helps you to manage your SimCapture units, so if you have multiple sim labs and debriefing rooms SimBridge helps to manage what A/V feeds need to go into what rooms.
SimCapture and SimBridge are on the same software platform which means they integrate seamlessly. Unfortunately, however, Clinical Skills is based on another format and so it cannot interact with the other two programs.
Important to note with B-Line (and most other A/V software management systems), is that the standard hardware provided only handles B-Line’s portion of the A/V system (meaning the computer components necessary to make B-Line itself work). Hardware, including items such as cameras, microphones and desktop terminals are NOT supplied by B-Line, but instead by a third party vendor, such as CCS Presentation Systems here in Las Vegas. (CCS is a fantastic company by the way!) The cost for the equipment and annual maintenance costs is high in comparison to some of the other A/V options out there on the market (Laerdal‘s AVS for example), but “you get what you pay for” as this is a higher quality product and service line.
SimCapture and SimBridge are EXTREMELY user-friendly programs. Logging in to start a recording session with SimBridge couldn’t be easier. Likewise, joining a simulation in progress is as easy as logging into a specific IP address on the closed network, selecting ‘join session’ and finding the appropriate SimCapture to watch. Recorded videos can be made available online to individuals with account access, or burned to disk in an mp4 format – which has great quality.
Keeping track of scenarios in a large center can quickly become overwhelming. “What 4th semester nursing scenario had the patient go into Vfib before the oxygen mask was put on?” will be a very hard question to answer six months from now. So B-Line provides users all the necessary fields for entering key information to find a particular scenario at some future date. (Just make sure you adopt a naming convention early on).
Administration of B-Line’s programs is similar to that of a windows-based network, wherein groups representing faculty/supervisors, staff, and learners can be given certain permissions to access, create, edit, and delete material on the system including specific manikins. User accounts can easily be batch uploaded if you have the appropriate Excel formatting. As well, a calendar system in SimBridge can help users to organize their sim labs. For example, CSCLV needed a calendar with online access for our combined faculties and so we have been Google’s free calendar application.
Clinical Skills takes this process to the next level for an SP Hall with a complex database account system for managing the specifics of permissions and variables for individual cases, course directors, SPs, monitors, and rooms.
Finally, evaluation forms and question exams are easy to create in both SimBridge & Clinical Skills. This has much more application in Standardized Patient encounters, however, where learners and SPs will need to report their findings after a scenario has ended. In Clinical Skills, the tests can be designed with great detail in a variety of formats. Furthermore, the format of your department’s SP encounters can be rearranged to your specific needs with a quick call to technical support explaining your requests. For example, if you wanted to set the system to initiate a pretest after announcing the encounter has begun then B-Line;s technical support can rearrange the algorithm of the software to make this happen. They take customizing to the next level in this regard.
If your Simulation Lab does NOT have a two-way mirror, meaning you are relying solely on your A/V system for your real-time engagement with learners in simulation, B-Line might not be the product for your department. There is about a 4 – 5 second delay after an action happens in the Sim Lab before it comes up on the screen in the control room. This is because the camera footage is being sent first to the server and then back to your control room (and the debriefing room). But again, if you have a two-way mirror then this will not be an issue since your facilitator will be able to simply watch the events unfold physically in front of them, and thus a real-time interaction can still occur. The five second delay does not matter when applied to learners in a debriefing room because there is no direct interaction.
SimBridge does not integrate with Clinical Skills and, while not a substantial flaw, it would be nice if the programs were seamless across the board, as this helps with the learning curve associated with utilizing the software. Speaking of which, Clinical Skills is quite complex and the learning curve with all the necessary forms and accounts to be filled out to get to a recording session will take some time. However, the CSCLV staff suggested to the technical support folks at B-Line that they should build into Clinical Skills a back door to getting into recording mode. Within a month they had updated the CSCLV Standardized Patient Hall Clinical Skills software to include a simple button to “start recording” in any of the twelve rooms. A company that actually listens to its customers? Think of that!
Lastly, the playback screen for debriefing purposes should really include a “full screen” option for the video feeds
Overall I have been very pleased with B-Line’s products at the Clinical Sim Center of Las Vegas. Their technical and administrative staff has been very helpful with the installation, integration, and servicing needs of CSCLV. They are quick to respond and are proactive in their assessment regarding potential issues. When we requested a quick and simple way to start recording a scenario in our SP Hall without filling in dozens of necessary fields B-Line quickly updated our software with an easy way to do accomplish our requests.
Ultimately I have very much appreciated the professional and friendly attitudes of B-Line employees and their “can-do” mentality. If you can afford B-Line’s products and services I highly recommend their product, especially for high-fidelity simulation centers with multiple labs.
For more information, check out www.BLineMedical.com , tell them Lance sent you!
Questions or Comments? Post them here and I will respond!
Director – Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas
Creator – HealthySimulation.com
Lance Baily, BA, EMT-B, is the Founder & CEO of HealthySimulation.com, which he started while serving as the Director of the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas back in 2010. Lance is also the Founder and current Chairman of the Board of SimGHOSTS.org, the world’s only non-profit organization dedicated to supporting professionals operating healthcare simulation technologies. His new co-edited Book: “Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice” is available now. Lance’s background includes serving as a Simulation Technology Specialist for the LA Community College District, EMS fire fighting, Hollywood movie production, rescue diving, and global travel. He lives with his wife Abigail in Las Vegas, Nevada.