simulation systems

3 Budget Hacks for Your High-Fidelity Healthcare Simulation System

3 Budget Hacks for Your High-Fidelity Healthcare Simulation System 2000 1333 Level 3 Healthcare

Simulation Environments for Less

If you’ve ever seen a holiday blockbuster film then you’ve probably been transported to a faraway place—a planet at the outer reaches of a futuristic solar system, backstage at a rock concert, or the front lines of World War II—maybe without even realizing it was happening.

Healthcare simulation labs require a similar suspension of disbelief for students to receive a truly immersive and effective education. There is an ever-growing body of tools that can help accomplish a high-fidelity simulation environment, including manikins, AV technology, and medical devices. But creating a seamless, realistic simulation doesn’t come cheap, and most universities and other training facilities don’t have the same budget as a Hollywood studio.

So, how can you get the tools you need to create a high-fidelity simulation experience, and how do you get them on a budget? Get your popcorn ready and keep reading to find out.

3 Steps to High-Fidelity Simulation on a Budget

There are three steps to take before you make an investment in healthcare simulation technology. Following these recommendations can help save you from unnecessary expenditures, while ensuring you have the tools and technologies you actually need.

  1. Outline the objectives for your lab. You can’t choose the right technology if you haven’t defined how it will be used. Instead of your technology dictating the curriculum, the objectives should justify the technology purchase. For example, if the goal of your lab is to teach non-emergency care, such as reading vitals or placing IVs, you don’t need a $10,000 manikin. Instead you could use real people and display their vital signs on an iPad, or invest in IV arms rather than the entire manikin.
  2. Don’t be distracted by simulation tech trends. Choose solutions you need—versus those with exciting features to save on costs and to ensure your simulation faculty won’t get distracted by the technology. For example, some simulation systems include a voice changer that can make the person speaking sound like someone else. A man can sound like a woman or an adult can sound like a child. Sure, it sounds cool, but think carefully about how much and how often you would use it. If the answer is not often, then the cost outweighs the benefit. In addition, some skills such as hand-washing and gloving, as well as taking temperatures, blood sugar, and other vital signs, are better acquired through manual learning.
  3. Think twice before you choose an all-in-one solution. While in other AV environments, such as a conference room, a packaged solution is usually more cost-effective, the same isn’t necessarily true for simulation systems. An all-in-one simulation solution creates a single point of failure—if one piece of the system goes down the entire solution becomes unusable. In addition, simulation technology is changing so fast that such solutions are at risk of becoming obsolete more quickly. Replacing one outdated piece of a system is much cheaper than replacing an entire solution.

Next Steps

You also want to make sure your installation is cost-efficient but done right. Every simulation solution requires an audiovisual installation, but not many simulation providers have AV expertise. So while a quote may seem cheap, you might have to pay the same amount again—and maybe more—to an AV integration firm. With Level 3 Healthcare you get simulation and AV expertise from the same team, making Level 3’s turnkey simulation solution a more cost-effective option in the long run.

Ready to learn more from our simulation experts about how to effectively choose and operate simulation solutions? Register for our Ultimate Simulation Boot Camp today.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Simulation Technology?

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Simulation Technology? 2000 1226 Level 3 Healthcare

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Simulation Technology?

Just as medicine continues to advance, healthcare simulation—and the standards that govern it—are also evolving. It’s important that healthcare organizations keep up, but how do you know when and what parts of your simulation technology should be upgraded?

How to Tell It’s Time for Something New

Before you can decide how extensive of an upgrade your existing simulation AV requires, you need to know how to identify if and when an upgrade is required. Here are some symptoms of an aging or ailing simulation system:

  1. Users wish it did more. Faculty, staff, administrators, and other users should continually evaluate the simulation system and make note of features and tools that don’t meet their needs or expectations. Your audiovisual (AV) system provider or integrator might be able to address some of them. The rest will be critical data points when designing the next iteration of your simulation system.
  2. You plan to scale. There are two components to successful scalability. The first is whether your current system can grow with your program as it expands and evolves. For example, your current AV capabilities may not support your plans to expand. The second component of scalability is whether your existing solutions are compatible with newer technologies. At some point, those older technologies won’t be available for replacement anymore. If you are facing frequent compatibility issues, it’s time for an upgrade.
  3. You have trouble managing and maintaining it. If you don’t have AV experts on staff who can help you maintain and update your simulation solution, consider upgrading to a system that is easier to care for and that offers ongoing management and maintenance.

If you have discovered that you need an upgrade, how do you decide what kind of upgrade you need?

 

Renovation vs. Refresh: Which Do You Need?

A refresh means replacing and upgrading outdated equipment that’s part of your simulation system. Computers usually become obsolete in about five years, and the same is also true of your core AV systems. If your simulation system can support your projected growth but needs new peripherals or components, a simple refresh is enough to bring it up to date.

A renovation not only upgrades components that need to be repaired or replaced, it also expands features and functionalities, enabling your system to be compatible with future growth and needs. A renovation is an investment. Taking shortcuts that don’t address core shortfalls in your simulation system or improve user outcomes will ultimately cost more. To best plan for a renovation, you should: start documenting issues that impact the effectiveness of your program; assess whether or not your system can scale to meet your planned and desired system growth, and; get advice from experts and plan for the long term.

 

Next Steps

Whether you are undertaking a simple refresh or preparing for an extensive simulation renovation, input from AV experts is key to your success. The simulation experts at Level 3 Healthcare are here to help. Schedule a consultation today.

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

FAQs: Answers to Common Questions about Simulation in Healthcare Education

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.

 

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