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Quality, Seamless Integration, Ease of Use, and Timely Support: What are you willing to pay?

Quality, Seamless Integration, Ease of Use, and Timely Support: What are you willing to pay? 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

Several companies have benefited from a manufacturing and service model that delivers on quality and usability.  Think for a moment, when considering computer and device innovation (for example), what computer companies do you think of that fit this characterization?  When you think of simulation AV companies, do you have the same assurance as you might with, say Microsoft or Apple? In the healthcare simulation community, many seem to have either learned to accept less from their AV solution provider. For many simulationists, they find ways to work around the deficiencies of their AV solution.  However, Level 3 Healthcare recognizes that if our customers want to enjoy a higher level of quality, reliability, and objective focused solutions, money is not necessarily related.

Level 3 Healthcare/Audiovisual (L3HC/L3AV) receives requests from potential clients that want us to provide a quote for our simulation AV solutions.  Many do not have much experience with our solutions (or any AV solution provider0, but they have heard of us. I have yet to talk to anyone who has seen and used SIMStation who did not immediately grasp that our solutions are game changers for healthcare simulation debriefing and video documentation.  But for the SIMStation software to work as designed, it must be correctly integrated and configured to work with compatible hardware.  Apple and Microsoft, for example, understand this.  It took Microsoft a little longer than Apple to come to that conclusion, but now both companies design, build and sell their own combined hardware/software solutions (MS now has their Surface line of computers and accessories).  Microsoft and Apple turn-key solutions are designed to be intuitive, and the operating systems are designed for the hardware, and the hardware is designed for the software.  Not unlike L3HC’s SIMStation line of products.

Some AV integration companies have learned this as well, but because simulation AV recording and debriefing is such a specialized setup, each system must be customized for each customer.  Interestingly, Microsoft developed their operating systems, in the beginning, solely to run on other hardware manufacturers’ systems.  The user experience varied between each computer brand, even though they all had MS WindowsTM installed.  Enter the Surface line of products from MicrosoftTM.  Quality control, hand-in-glove compatibility and consistent user-experience.  Apple adopted this approach from the very beginning.  Apple users have traditionally been the biggest fans and repeat customers of Apple products. The substance of this article is not about either of these companies.  They are just examples of the good that happens when the hardware/software designs and implementations are in sync with each other.

Regarding simulation programs, the saying goes “if you have seen one simulation program, you have seen one simulation program.” Meaning, no two simulation programs are alike. Each program has different needs and objectives.  Both Apple and Microsoft discovered that each of their companies had a better chance of controlling quality and usability if they built their own computers and developed their own software.  While both offer some compatibility with third party solutions, they have been able to maintain quality and usability of the basic system.

Level 3 Healthcare’s SIMStation software solutions are paired with high quality hardware and the highest quality standards in the industry (AV9000). SIMStation is a high-end simulation AV solution, designed with debriefing in mind.  With our competitors, many are forced to try to figure out a resolution or workaround ourselves. Level 3 Healthcare gives you a direct line to our team.  Should you need our help, even if it is user error, we are available to fix it . . . often within minutes.  Do you have that kind of relationship with your AV vendor?  Do you wait days, weeks, even months for problem resolution?

Level 3 Healthcare offers a unified software and hardware solution.  We stand by our systems, and before you buy them, experienced simulation educators, operations specialists, and engineers will work with you to make sure you understand what is included in the purchase, what it can do, what it cannot do, and ensure that the solution matches your institution’s requirements.  Upon sale, delivery and installation, we want you to be pleased with your decision and ultimately enjoy quality, seamless integration, ease of use, and timely support.  After all, our best sales people are end-users.

How to Solve Common Simulation Challenges

How to Solve Common Simulation Challenges 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

Simulation technology is a hot topic these days, and its popularity is only increasing. Why? Because simulation helps healthcare students and providers prepare for high stakes scenarios in a safe, low-risk environment. Simulation-enabled education and training ultimately improves provider performance and patient outcomes. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its share of unique frustrations. As more institutions incorporate simulation solutions into their training curriculums, more kinks appear that need to be worked out.

 

7 Common Simulation Challenges—and Their Solutions

Level 3 recently conducted a survey to identify the most common simulation challenges. Below are some of the frustrations, as well as advice from simulation experts on how to solve them.

1. Complicated policies and procedures. Simulations create data and recordings that must be stored and archived properly to avoid liability.

Solution: Creating an official policy for storage of simulation session videos, for example, can help mitigate any risks posed by storing information in the simulation lab itself. For example, all video could be forwarded to the appropriate faculty member and then deleted from the simulation lab server.

2. Exchanging information and following best practices. A lack of standardized training for simulation technology users means the exchange of lessons learned and best practices is critical—but it is also easier said than done.

Solution: Use social and professional networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn to create groups for simulation technology users.

3. Hiring and training qualified Sim Techs. The current lack of standardized training for simulation technicians can pose a challenge when you are trying to hire the most qualified person to round out your simulation team.

Solution: Focus on each individual’s capabilities rather than whether they have a specific degree. Writing a job description that matches the specific needs of your organization will also help you attract and hire the right person.

4. Adequately training staff. Allocating funds for simulation solutions isn’t money well spent if no one can operate the solution. In some cases, a lack of training and confidence may cause faculty to avoid using the solutions altogether.

Solution: In addition to setting aside money, time must also be set aside so staff members can be adequately trained and prepared to use simulation tools to their full potential.

5. Developing relevant scenarios. Having access to simulation technology can enhance the learning experience, but the capabilities of your technology shouldn’t dictate what is taught.

Solution: Educators need to identify their learning goals independent of the simulation tool and then leverage simulation technology to achieve them.

6.Improving access and connectivity. Spotty wireless connectivity in a simulation lab can be frustrating to educators, especially if they only use the simulation system once or twice a semester.

Solution: Hardwiring all the components in the lab can resolve this issue. VPN, conference calling, and remote access software can help provide remote access to scenarios, recordings, and debriefings.

7. Knowing when simulation isn’t the best solution. Manikin-based simulations are convenient and popular, but they might not be the best tool for every training scenario. Even the most thorough, thought-out simulation can’t account for everything a real patient might do.

Solution: Use all the training tools and methods available to you for the most comprehensive, realistic training experience.

 

Next Steps

Want more details about solutions to your simulation challenges and concerns? Level 3 recently hosted a webinar where our simulation experts addressed your most common frustrations and provided informed advice to resolve them. Download the webinar recording to learn more. (Password: Level3HC)

 

7 Reasons to Standardize Your Simulation Technology

7 Reasons to Standardize Your Simulation Technology 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

Simulation technology has become an integral part of the training and education for industries like medicine and emergency response, where the stakes are high, and errors can be costly not only financially but in patient outcomes.

Simulation technologies can be a significant investment, but standardizing these solutions can make their use more efficient and effective.

What to Standardize in Your Simulation Solution—and Why

Standardizing simulation solutions across an organization improves the experience of educators who are running the simulations as well as of students who are learning from them. It also improves the experience of other staff members like operations specialists, IT managers, and simulation technicians who may be called upon to operate the simulation solution or troubleshoot issues when they arise. Here are seven areas to consider standardizing—and why.

  1. Control stations. One teacher might use a handful of different simulation solutions across your campus or organization during a semester or school year. Precious teaching and learning time is lost if they have to reacquaint themselves with the control system every time they want to run a simulation scenario. Standardized control stations with the same computer model, operating system, mouse, keyboard and aspect ratio cut down on time spent learning how to use the system and increase time spent using it to teach students.
  2. Operational commands. Part of standardizing control stations is standardizing the commands users need to operate the system and run the scenario. Keyboard commands should be the same for every simulation tool in your organization, and every control station computer should have the same desktop shortcuts installed. In other words, there should be no difference to a user no matter which simulation tool they are running.
  3. Scenario programming. Many educators use the same scenario for each simulation session, but instead of saving the steps and outcomes, the scenario is programmed manually each time. This is a time-consuming process that also leaves room for human error. By pre-programming standard scenarios, educators can automate the process, which saves time and allows them to account for and easily address the most common student responses and outcomes. Any outcomes outside those parameters can be addressed in real time during the scenario and incorporated into the automated version later.
  4. Responses and prompts. Events during a simulation, and the outcomes of those events, should play out organically to some degree, but many events and outcomes can be organized and standardized on the simulator software menu. For example, generic responses given by the manikin such as “yes,” “no,” and “I don’t know” could be grouped together under a single menu heading. This kind of standardization also simplifies the operation of the simulator, allowing educators to pay more attention to what students are doing and how they are reacting.
  5. Simulation training and education. Simulation solutions are increasingly common in higher education settings, but the training for how to operate simulation solutions is not yet standardized across the industry. Training ranges from on-the-job learning to professional certificates to master’s degrees in clinical simulation. Providing a clear and standardized path for your employees to receive training on operating simulation solutions will help ensure a uniform, quality experience for everyone involved in operating, teaching with, and learning from a simulation tool.
  6. Simulation technician role. One of the easiest and best ways to ensure your simulation solutions are installed, operated, and maintained correctly is to designate a simulation technician within your organization. A designated simulation technician will take the burden off IT staff or operations specialists who have taken on simulation solutions as an additional duty. A dedicated simulation technician can also ensure standardization of simulation tools across your organization.
  7. Results tracking. If simulation systems are standardized across your organization, you can much more easily track comparable results and outcomes across your organization, and quickly adjust scenarios and processes as needed.  

Next Steps

Standardizing or, at the very least, integrating simulation solutions across your organization will lead to a richer experience for the teachers and students who use them. Designating one person, with the proper training and necessary availability, to manage the operation of simulation solutions across your organization is a critical step toward that standardization. Level 3 can help you do both. Level 3 Audiovisual simulation technology integrators can get you started with the right hardware and software. And Level 3 training and certification opportunities can ensure your simulation technicians are qualified to operate and manage those solutions.

4 Ways Simulation Technicians Add Value To Your Organization

4 Ways Simulation Technicians Add Value To Your Organization 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

In a real life medical emergency, wasting time becomes a matter of life and death. In a simulated medical emergency an actual life isn’t on the line but wasted time can still be damaging. If an educator has to spend time on setting up the system, troubleshooting the system, or fixing glitches, time is taken away from critical teaching and learning. Simulation scenarios might be rushed or missed altogether if teachers spend the bulk of their time just trying to get a simulation system to work.

As institutions of higher learning—particularly those involved in medical training—increasingly incorporate simulation tools into their curriculums, investing in a dedicated technician to ensure the system runs smoothly is more important than ever.

4 Benefits You Get From A Simulation Technician  

Educators, IT pros and operations specialists often find themselves responsible for the operation and maintenance of simulation tools under the category of “other duties as assigned.” Many organizations don’t see the point in hiring a dedicated person to do a job existing employees seem to be managing just fine. But just because something is going fine doesn’t mean it can’t be better, and simulation technicians could be the key to unlocking additional productivity and ROI. Here are four ways simulation technicians can add value to your organization.

  1. Educators want to teach, not trouble shoot. Educators often become de facto simulation experts because they use the technology the most. Educators who have to set up and troubleshoot the simulation system are distracted from their core mission—to teach. If a simulation technician were available to prepare the simulation room, boot or reset the system, and address any issues as they arose, educators would have increased time for instruction, grading, mentoring and other responsibilities.
  2. IT departments have enough to do. Almost every IT department already has more than enough to do, and maintaining and monitoring a simulation system will likely fall to the bottom of an already long list. A simulation technician can relieve some of that burden by handling the day-to-day operations of a simulation system and freeing up the IT department to focus on more high-level, organization-wide concerns.
  3. Simulation solutions don’t exist in a vacuum. Simulation systems are not stand-alone tools. They have to interact and cooperate with other technologies, including network connections and AV equipment. Simulation technicians are perfectly positioned to be a full-time subject matter expert not only on the simulation system, but on how it integrates with other components. As simulation subject matter experts, simulation technicians can also advocate for the adoption and incorporation of simulation best practices.
  4. Time is money and sim techs save time. There is a lot of prep work that goes into a successful simulation user experience. It’s not as simple as booting up the system and diving in. For example, a room must be stocked with the right supplies. The simulation system itself has to be prepped and tested. Seamless simulation experiences also require someone to document and implement usage schedules, track and order supplies, work with vendors for support and collaborate with faculty members to understand what they need for each simulation scenario and prepare accordingly. That’s a lot to ask of someone who already has a full job description. A simulation technician, however, has the bandwidth and expertise to keep everyone on track and make sure students receive the necessary simulation training on time and without glitches.

Next Steps

The role of simulation technician is new to many organizations and the level of experience and skills among simulation technicians can vary. Taking advantage of training and certification opportunities, such as those offered by Level3, will ensure your simulation technician has the education and support they need to help you succeed.

Introducing Pulse IDM, A 24/7 SIMStation Monitoring Option

Introducing Pulse IDM, A 24/7 SIMStation Monitoring Option 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

Why Healthcare Simulation Technology Is Vital

The first time a doctor has to resuscitate a patient, there’s a lot less riding on the outcome if the patient was never alive to begin with. Simulation training in healthcare allows students to learn with less pressure and more opportunities to hone their skills before they use them in a real healthcare setting.

Simulation systems are made up of numerous components that require monitoring, management, and maintenance. Your IT department can handle all of this for your organization’s simulation labs, or you can use a service that provides intelligent monitoring.

Without sufficient monitoring, devices can fail, resulting in canceled classes, blown schedules, and training plans falling behind. Organizers must reschedule classes, and with 15 to 20 students and observers in each class, equipment failure can be extremely disruptive.

A dedicated monitoring solution will prevent ill-timed device failures and provide more timely resolution should something go wrong.

 

Keeping Your Simulation Solution Healthy

If one of the cameras stops working in your simulation lab or center, will you know it before someone tries to use it? Will you know if it has simply gone offline or if only it is the device that has stopped responding? Is it experiencing an error?

Proactive monitoring will help prevent interruptions and delays often by correcting issues before anyone at the facility is even aware there was an issue. To find a solution that can be thorough, effective, and proactive, look for these features:

  • Secure communications
  • System updates
  • Automated failure recovery
  • Trends and utilization reporting
  • Customization and add-ons
  • Monitoring all simulation station hardware and software

The right solution for your organization will depend on the size of your simulation programs, the capacity of your internal resources, and the importance of your programs functioning and staying online at all times.

Specialized Intelligent Device Monitoring

The Level 3 Audiovisual intelligent device monitoring (IDM) solution—Pulse—has been specifically designed to monitor the SIMStation product. The solution often includes a simulation lab or room, a control room, and a debriefing room where students and teachers can evaluate what happened in the simulations.

The simulation room will feature devices like multiple cameras, microphones, and a speaker system. The control room will contain a compact server-case to house AV technology, recording software that is controlled by touchscreens, and a microphone for communication with other rooms. The debriefing room contains necessary software, displays for reviewing recordings, and a SIMStation tablet for control.

The Pulse monitoring device is a small appliance that monitors only the devices in your simulation rooms. It communicates securely to the Level 3 Audiovisual data center through an outbound connection, thereby eliminating firewall concerns. The monitoring center’s servers are not on the cloud but self-hosted at the center where the servers analyze incoming data, and technicians can immediately respond to issues.

From resetting devices to their default or standard settings—like mic volume, camera position, etc.—to arranging an on-site support visit, Pulse services monitor and address device performance issues. The goal is to minimize problems that would affect the client’s use of the SIMStation and reach a resolution more quickly.

Since Pulse is specifically designed to monitor SIMStation devices and software, it can more efficiently identify and address issues.

 

Next Steps

The Pulse IDM solution for SIMStation requires little to no interaction from the end user and eliminates the need for the IT department to monitor and maintain the hardware and software thus improving ROI of the simulation solution. Plus, the organization can confidently keep their training and simulation programs running smoothly and on time.

Contact us below if you have any questions about SIMStation or remote monitoring solutions.

FAQs: Answers to Common Questions about Simulation in Healthcare Education

FAQs: Answers to Common Questions about Simulation in Healthcare Education 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

Simulated training exercises have been part of medical education for more than 2,000 years. While medical and nursing students once learned their craft using statues with “veins” made of blown glass, today’s medical simulation manikins are sometimes indistinguishable from human patients. Simulation solutions allow students to practice, assess, and perfect their skills—from taking vitals to triage to surgery—with no risk to real patients. Video capture designed for debriefing further enhances the value of simulation education by allowing instructors to address specific actions and results.

If you’re considering implementing a simulation system in your institution or organization, you may have a lot of questions about what will be the right solution for you, and what it will take to operate and maintain it. Michael Young is Level 3’s Healthcare Simulation Technology & Operations Consultant and he has the answers to the most frequently asked questions about simulation in healthcare education.

Create immersive learning environments with simulation solutions.

Q: What capabilities do I need in a simulation solution?

A: A simulation system allows students to carry out real-life scenarios in a controlled, simulated environment. If you’ve ever practiced CPR on a “dummy,” you’ve participated in a simulated learning environment. Simulation training is particularly prevalent in medical training because it allows students in both nursing and medical schools to address life-and-death situations—resuscitation, wound care, triage, surgery, vitals monitoring, emergency care and more—without the pressure of actual life and death. Solutions vary in complexity depending on your specific training needs, and Level 3’s proprietary SimStation application can support a range of system configurations. The most basic simulation offering includes multi-camera support viewable on a single screen with real-time audio. Intermediate solutions may allow data from patient monitors, whether real or virtual, to be captured as a video stream that can be recorded, broadcast, or both. More advanced systems are compatible with training manikins that play the role of a patient during a simulated healthcare scenario. In this application, a simulation audiovisual (AV) system would interface with a manikin by automatically receiving a data stream during a scenario session or immediately upon its completion. Simulated events in the scenario—for example, increasing the respiratory rate of the “patient”—are time-stamped and indexed for later review and debriefing. This functionality comes at increased cost.

 

Q: How will simulation benefit my institution?

A: Teachers and students both benefit from comprehensive, hands-on learning. Educators can move away from lecture-focused, one-sided teaching and instead provide an interactive, learner-focused experience that emphasizes practical skills and address real-time student questions and responses. Students benefit from life-like learning environments that allow them to assess outcomes in a controlled way. For example, a nursing student had a strong emotional response when her actions in a simulation led to the “death” of her “patient.” Experiencing and debriefing such outcomes in a controlled, simulated environment better prepare providers to prevent or manage those outcomes in the real world.

 

Q: What is the cost?

A: The first question on the lips of anyone considering a simulation solution is how much it will cost. The cost largely depends on your organization’s needs and application of the solution. For example, how many rooms are involved in your simulation environment and what type of rooms are they? Will you be following one patient from the emergency room to an exam room to a surgical theater? Or do you need to simultaneously track multiple patients in one large area? How many images do you need to capture per second? In a standard simulation, 30 frames/second is usually sufficient, but for more precise disciplines such as surgery, 60 frames/second in high definition is required. Data collection requirements, storage requirements, software/hardware requirements, and your debriefing process will all impact total cost. Considerations include whether you are recording data from the patient manikin as well as portable monitors measuring vital signs, how long you need to store recordings, etc.

 

Q: Will the solution go on our network?

A: IT departments worry about having additional boxes or devices added to their network to support a large simulation system. A simulation system does require network access, but a dedicated simulation AV network behind its own router or VLAN can prevent a slowdown of the larger network. User-based access to a dedicated simulation network—such as requiring user credentials—can help protect the network. In addition, user-based access to a separate simulation network also addresses HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) compliance requirements.

 

Q: What kind of storage will be required for all that data?

A: Because of compression standards, simulation recording file sizes can vary by as much as 500 percent. The length of the recording and the amount of movement captured in the recording are major factors in determining storage requirements. As a general rule, a recording with four video and audio streams would require a minimum of 100 MG per minute or 6 GB per hour. The length of time you need to retain each recording will also determine storage requirements. While most simulation AV systems record onto a network-connected PC, server, or DVR-type device, removable or external media storage capabilities can be built into a simulation system for growth and scalability. While redundancy of recorded files is recommended initially as a precaution, scheduled culling of duplicate files can prevent unnecessary accumulation that eats up storage space.

 

Q: What will it take to use and maintain a simulation solution?

A: The intended use of your simulation solution will determine the type of system you need and what skills and expertise will be required to operate and maintain it. Possible integration with additional technologies, such as manikins, will further inform your operation and maintenance requirements. Once your solution is installed, hiring an in-house simulation technician is highly recommended for ongoing support and operation—especially if your system will grow more complex. AV system integrators should also coordinate with IT managers and network specialists to ensure synchronization on the software side of the system.

Q: What support services are available?

A: Most experienced and qualified system integrators offer various warranties and maintenance service programs to fit your organization’s specific needs and budget. Even if your integrator is not headquartered nearby, a good partner will train and deploy a local AV service technician to troubleshoot issues and perform routine repairs. Be sure to ask your integrator about what project warranties and extended warranties are available, what they cover, and what other options they provide for maintenance contracts and on-site and other kinds of support.

 

Learn more about implementing simulation solutions here.

Why Integration Matters                     

Ensuring your simulation solution is properly integrated from the beginning will help maximize your investment and learning outcomes. From system design and installation to security compliance, data storage, and more, a qualified simulation technology integrator can set you and your students up for success.

 

Still Have Questions?

Don’t see your question about simulation systems answered here? Ask us below and one of our experts will be in touch soon.

Healthcare Simulation: Cognitive Load in the Control Room Pt2

Healthcare Simulation: Cognitive Load in the Control Room Pt2 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

I invite you to read Part 1 before you begin reading this section. Part 1 is an introduction to the challenge for the simulationist in regard to cognitive load. Part 2 begins a discussion on the types of technologies that will help address these challenges. 

Part 1 assumes that you as the reader even has experience with the typical control room. The reality is that each simulation program may have the control room layout designed differently. Allow me to provide a little more context for those of you who don’t have a control room.

Facility Design Challenges

A control room will have at least one control “station” and may even have half a dozen or more. Some simulation programs have distributed control rooms that are placed in proximity to one or more simulation training rooms. A central control room that hosts all the control stations has a huge benefit in terms of facility infrastructure design (easy access to power, network, collaboration, support). However, some prefer having a one-way glass placed between the control room and the simulation training rooms so that even without an AV solution, the operator/facilitator can see what is happening in the training room. However, the reliance on glass (one way or otherwise) to see into the room also creates new challenges. If the light is too bright in the control room, learners/participants can see movement, and sometimes see clearly those in the control room, thus creating some distraction to learners and consequently to staff. Other simulation facilities with this setup struggle to see past reflections and glares on the glass. To reduce glare, or transparency, some have decided to turn lights off in the control room altogether, with no light except for the light from the computer monitors. Collaboration, note taking, and even control may be sacrificed or hampered without appropriate lighting.

So, what does facility design have to do with “cognitive load”? In part one, I made it pretty clear the types of distractions and load that a facilitator/operator has to face, and this did not even take into consideration the environment in which the simulator and AV system is being controlled. Removal of distractions in the environment are important, if not critical.

 

Distractions and Solutions:

  • Clutter: The control room and consequently, each control station should be free of clutter. Clutter could include loose papers, notes (not being used), unmanaged cables (network, power, USB, etc.)
    • Solution: each operator/facilitator should pick up after themselves and leave their station clean at the end of each session. Cables should be managed so that feet do not get tangled in them, or that counter/desktops stay neat and tidy.
  • Complex station design where multiple keyboards, pointing devices (mouse, touchpad, etc.), inconsistency between one control station and another, requiring operators to learn the uniqueness of each station, operating system, application location, etc.
    • Solution 1: standardize each control station as much as possible. Use same branding monitors and computers and input devices (keyboard, mouse, microphone, etc.). The operator/facilitator should not have to relearn how to use the hardware (and software,if possible) just by changing to a different station. Each station is typically dedicated to a single simulation training space, but different manikin models and brands may be swapped out between each one. As much as it is possible, each control station can operate any manikin owned in any of these spaces.
    • Solution 2: When multiple computers are required for a control station, reduce multiple keyboards and mice to a single keyboard and mouse by using a KM switch. Switching control between computers can be as easy as moving your mouse pointer from one monitor screen to an adjacent monitor. Adder and Avocent both offer a command and control type KM (where KM = Keyboard, Mouse) switch. These switches can support up to four computers. Avocent has a switch that is smaller where only two computers are needed, and that will save some money.
    • Solution 3: As much as possible, each computer should have the same version of operating system (Windows 10.*, MacOS, etc.) and the computer should only have software related to simulation control. I’ve seen staff members use control station computers to do their office work and sometimes install software, or plugins for the browser. This has a strong potential to create instability with the simulation control and AV software. Control Stations should only be used for control.
  • Speakers from different control stations being used where sound is blaring from one scenario and distracting other operators/facilitators in the control room.
    • Solution 1: Use headphones when other operators are in the same room and more than one scenario is being controlled. When entering the control room be discreet and considerate that your activity does not add to the cognitive load already bearing down on the facilitator/operator.
    • Solution 2: If still designing your center, and the layout of your facility supports it, use a distributed control room model, where each simulation training room has one control station in its own control room. These are smaller rooms, but you will have greater freedom to control what is happening in the space if it isn’t shared with other facilitators like a central control room. However, this does create challenges as well. There are advantages to both distributed and central control room facility design. Consider how you will use the space.

 

Next time, I will talk about how standardized scenarios through programming and design can reduce cognitive load by automating many of the physiological processes that would otherwise have to be manipulated manually.

Do you have a challenge you would like me to address? Reach out to me anytime at myoung@l3hc.com. Do you have a solution to address cognitive load?

Share with me and I will give you credit for the suggestion in a future blog article.

Healthcare Simulation: Cognitive Load in the Control Room Pt1

Healthcare Simulation: Cognitive Load in the Control Room Pt1 1500 1001 Level 3 Healthcare

The Stage:

Let’s face it, simulation control rooms could use a huge makeover; so many distractions can overwhelm most simulationists. Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used to accomplish a set of tasks, or just one task. The human brain can only do so much before errors become a part of the effort. So, when a typical OB simulation room has both the mother and newborn simulators, a fetal heart monitor and the mother’s vitals, it requires a means for the simulator operator/facilitator to control the progress and outcome of the scenario; this requires a lot of infrastructure at the simulation control station. In the case of an OB scenario, one person (sometimes two) is (are) required to operate a computer to control the OB simulator, another computer to control the newborn simulator, and a third computer to manage the audiovisual solution that allows the operator to see into the room from multiple angles. On top of this, some configurations may have at least one other computer that is displaying vitals in the patient room, which to some degree must be managed as well.

Behind the Curtain:

For the operator to guide the scenario, they need to be able to see and hear what learners are doing so that appropriate physiological and vocal responses can be managed. Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras may need to target another view of the room, getting another glimpse into the minds of the learners. “How many liters of oxygen did they administer to the patient?” Zoom the camera in to see what the gauge says, but oops, while the operator was doing that, the learners were doing something else in the space, but the operator missed it.

With so many computers, the operator may have to switch between several keyboards and pointing devices (mouse or touch pad). Each computer may have a different operating system, so the operator is having to migrate their attention away from assessing learners constantly, as they navigate between multiple platforms. The operator can also be the voice of the patient, or directing someone else to be the voice of the patient. A male operator uses falsetto to approximate a female patient’s higher voice. The learners giggle as they are not convinced. The learners ask the “patient” several questions, and the operator shuffles through some notes to find the correct response.

I’ve been there. It is overwhelming and at the end of the scenario, I am emotionally and physically spent. Therefore, some simulation programs utilize a subject matter expert (facilitator/educator) to help assess the learners and guide the operator, and in some cases, portray the voice of the patient. Even with two people, there is a lot to coordinate, communicate and monitor.

Scene Changes:

For those of you reading this that have facilitated a scenario using simulators, you know what it means to experience cognitive overload. Operating the scenario is only part of the cognitive load that a typical operations specialist must facilitate. Once the scenario is complete, the simulation space must be setup for the next group of learners. The simulator must be reset, and perhaps calibrated appropriately. What if a simulator has a technical issue? What if the network goes down? What if? Each interval between each scenario are as critical as the scenario itself. Are the props in place? Are supplies present and in the right quantity? This can be a logistical nightmare, as the setting must be complete and ready by the time the learners step into the scenario environment.

Any Solutions?

This post serves as introduction to a series of forth-coming posts that will attempt to address critical factors in reducing cognitive load for the operations specialist. Keep in mind that a faculty member or a simulation educator may not have the “luxury” of having a simulation technician, or operations specialist, so must function as such. This only adds another layer of distraction (cognitive load) as these professionals must think beyond the moment and consider how a scenario might fit into the overall curriculum, and how learner performance should be addressed in a safe environment during debriefing. Join me next time as we begin to address technological and operational solutions to cognitive overload. Have questions? Fill out the form below and I will get back to you.