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Tag Archives: Healthcare Training

How Can Virtual Simulation Encourage Retention in Healthcare?

Practising clinical skills with virtual simulation
Practising clinical skills with virtual simulation

Since 2016, US hospitals have turned over an average of 90% of their workforce. This essentially means that, on average, just 10% of all staff remain working for the same hospital five years on.

Expenses are spiraling. Annual RN turnover costs US hospitals roughly $4.4m–$6.9m a year, and the loss of a single physician amounts to over $1 million. Our health systems cannot afford to lose staff. 

Ultimately, it’s our patients who suffer. With interrupted patient-provider relationships leading to adverse health outcomes and a reluctance to seek care in the future, continually replacing healthcare professionals can be devastating to patient outcomes. It’s a similar story in the UK, with rising GP turnover rates threatening patients’ quality and continuity of care.

How do we combat this? By embedding consistent, quality education into retention programs, healthcare institutions can build a system of support that empowers staff to deliver outstanding care. It’s time for virtual simulation to prove itself worthy of the task.

Improving staff competency and confidence

Research shows that financial incentives alone rarely help with staff retention. Factors such as a lack of personal growth (in both doctors and nurses), lack of self-confidence, and mismatched expectations in graduates are key contributors to turnover.

Without the chances to develop their skill set, healthcare professionals risk stagnation. This influences more than job satisfaction — it can profoundly affect a practitioner’s confidence in their abilities. Recent research found that poor self-confidence is directly related to increased turnover. It puts patients at a greater risk of harm, too.

To develop confident, competent staff, institutions must invest in learning opportunities for staff that are engaging, convenient, user-friendly, and affordable. Enter virtual reality: a solution that exceeds these requirements.

With VR simulation, users can enjoy on-demand access to immersive, experiential learning. The portable hardware is easy to configure, infinitely scalable, and costs next to nothing compared to traditional sim equipment. Even better, the experience is genuinely enjoyable!

Can virtual reality training increase competence? Absolutely! Studies show it can boost procedural confidence, facilitate technical skill development, and even speed up recognition of needed care escalation. 

VR simulation platforms like OMS offer standardized scenarios which are infinitely repeatable. A scenario’s learning objectives are consistent, meaning every repetition strengthens a user’s understanding and skills. But from a user perspective, it doesn’t feel boring to retry a scenario because dynamic storylines adapt in response to user actions, recreating how a case could unexpectedly unfold in real life. This unparalleled realism trains practitioners — and prepares graduates — to better handle the varied stresses of patient care. 

When OMS’s scenarios were put to the test, researchers found users learned more and felt significantly more confident in key elements of patient care. What’s more, 89% were still applying what they learned in their daily practice three months after the trial! The profound and lasting effects that virtual simulation (such as OMS) has on staff confidence and clinical capabilities will impact the lives of innumerable patients.

Performing an eye exam on a pediatric patient in OMS
Immersive, repeatable virtual simulation scenarios strengthen staff competence and confidence
Doctor in surgery examining little girl
Staff can apply their experience in virtual simulation to real-world clinical situations

Helping to facilitate role flexibility and advancement

A lack of career progression is a key driver in nursing turnover. MedCity News notes that hospitals “need to create a structured approach to career planning that starts with helping nurses determine what kind [of] path appeals to them”.

Healthcare business guidelines suggest continued training and advancement opportunities are excellent ways to encourage retention amongst staff. Enabling your nurses and doctors to build new skills and engage with new roles could give them the fresh perspective needed to remain in your institution.

How can VR facilitate this? Hands-on experiences in virtual simulation give users an authentic interpretation of real-life scenarios for a range of disciplines (such as obstetrics, pediatrics, and ICU), reinforcing the skills and knowledge they need to advance in their field.

Virtual simulation can also support undecided staff to identify where to transfer. Good VR sim platforms have extensive libraries with a variety of disciplines to explore. Through practicing different scenarios, staff can learn where their skills fit and what interests them most—and then managers can work with them to facilitate the change. By giving your team the chance to explore unfamiliar situations, you can help to spark their curiosity and reignite their passion for work.

Regular check-ins between managers and staff are vital to keeping the workforce satisfied. Managers can leverage virtual simulation scenarios to quickly and accurately measure staff performance, helping inform them how they can better support their team’s development. 

Because virtual reality hardware is portable and flexible, you can use it whenever and wherever is most convenient. Instead of finding time on the floor to observe staff performance, managers can schedule a time with staff and watch their skills in action, one-on-one, in an immersive virtual environment. 

Analytics give objective feedback, helping managers notice any key strengths they may have missed during observation. This way, they can also identify suitable candidates to nominate when positions become open—meaning health professionals will feel supported to pursue new opportunities, ultimately keeping them in the industry.

Looking to improve your retention strategy? Book a free demo with one of our experts.

Providing staff support and improving wellbeing

To develop effective retention programs, institutions must include training that fosters a caring, supportive environment for every member of the team.

Healthcare staff frequently cite a lack of support as a reason for burnout and turnover. Mentoring programs, designed to empower and engage staff, are linked to higher satisfaction levels and positive career development in medical staff. 

How can VR contribute to effective mentoring? Virtual simulation platforms that offer enhanced analytics give managers the capacity to identify weaknesses in practitioners and pair them with mentors who perform well in that area. Staff can feel less stressed, knowing that they have someone to turn to when they’re struggling.

Training as a team also helps shift health professionals from a competitive mindset to a more cooperative one. By using virtual reality, interprofessional scenarios can promote collaborative work with practitioners across countries in addition to disciplines. This can give staff a greater openness to different cultures and walks of life. 

A lack of support isn’t the main threat to staff retention. Bullying is one of the main reasons for turnover for doctors and nurses alike. Research attributes nurse-to-nurse bullying as a significant contributing factor to the nursing shortage. What’s more, up to 90% of medical students, foreign medical graduates, resident doctors, and female staff members experience bullying. 

Virtual reality is an ideal medium for promoting empathy among colleagues. Through immersion and presence—the feeling of “being there”—VR delivers a deeply emotive experience that allows users to connect with characters they encounter. 

Virtual simulation platforms (such as OMS) deliver patient-facing scenarios covering a wide range of cases. These can involve handling sensitive topics, including mental health and gender identity. By practicing, debriefing, and discussing these cases, virtual simulation facilitates open and honest communication amongst health professionals—helping them to better understand and handle issues they may not already be familiar with.

Finally, it’s worth considering the psychological benefits of using VR for training compared to more traditional methods. Research shows virtual reality training significantly reduces stress and anxiety. How? It allows staff to repeat scenarios as often as needed, meaning they can become completely comfortable with unfamiliar situations. Virtual simulation empowers clinicians to practice safely and as often as they like, enabling their confidence to soar. Crucially, when healthcare professionals feel more confident and prepared for the challenges they will face, they’re less likely to experience burnout.


Summary

For healthcare systems to keep their valued staff, they must provide a better level of support.

Virtual reality is the ideal medium to deliver this. VR technology is easily scalable and is available on-demand, with negligible costs relative to staff turnover.

With the right software, virtual simulation encourages collaboration with team members, builds empathy, and gives an objective insight into areas of weakness so that staff can get the help they need. 

Happy, collaborative teams help build a positive workplace—and that culture matters for more than just retention. A healthy work culture—one that puts staff retention at its core—leads to successful recruitment as well!

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Virtual Reality World Tech Magazine: Informed Immersion

Immersive technology is making significant strides in training medical professionals and as a treatment in health and wellness.

There are many ways that virtual reality (VR) can be applied in healthcare – from training medical professionals to aiding surgeons through visualisation or even robotics. But where is immersive tech really excelling right now, and what is it achieving for patients and medical professionals alike?

In the article below, Dr Jack Pottle, Chief Medical Officer at Oxford Medical Simulation, speaks to VR World Tech – discussing the views and often misconceptions that institutions have about immersive tech…

Read the full interview here

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The Importance of Simulation

Types of simulation

This week is Healthcare Simulation week and as part of the celebrations we take a look at five reasons to salute the wonderful practice of simulation…

 

 

1. Simulation improves patient care 

By far the most compelling benefit of simulation in healthcare is the positive impact that it can have on patients. After all, a drive to  improve patient outcomes and the quality of their care is at the basis of healthcare education systems worldwide…

Providing future healthcare workers with the resources to optimize patient care – be that through effective clinical acumen, time management, communication and everything else in between – is the bedrock of a successful healthcare system.

Essentially, simulation sets trainee doctors and nurses up to effectively make people better when they come to practice in real life. In 2012, Benjamin Zendejas (Mayo Medical School, Rochester) set out to prove how far simulation training promotes positive results for patients. The findings were powerful; simulation-based education was shown to be directly linked to patient benefits when compared to both non-simulation-based training and instances where no intervention was given at all. 

Linked to this is the propensity for simulation to reduce patient harm. No clinician wants to inadvertently complicate or worsen a patient’s condition but medical error is the third leading cause of death in hospitals worldwide. With simulation, we are able to reproduce patient care sequences with all the clinical complexities of real life scenarios allowing clinicians to cover all the bases when treating real people. 

Ultimately, simulation-based training produces more competent healthcare professionals which can only be beneficial in improving the quality and safety of patient care. 

 

2. Simulation inspires confidence

Few on-boarding periods of a new job can be as daunting as starting out as a junior doctor or nurse. Fetching coffees, navigating the intricacies of a Kafkaesque office bureaucracy, whilst remembering not to raid Belinda from Accounts’ personal HobNob stash seem like a walk in the park compared to a 12-hour shift filled with hundreds of patients with complaints ranging from the utterly absurd to the genuinely life-threatening. 

To make matters worse, strained resources, overcrowded hospitals and staff shortages mean that most junior healthcare professionals face much of this without the necessary support.   With simulation, clinicians are able to practice managing acutely unwell patients without causing real patient harm if it goes wrong. In this way, practicing emergency care during training can take the edge off the intimidating world of real life practice.

This is something we’ve been made directly aware of at Oxford Medical Simulation through the roll-out of our virtual reality simulation platform at Oxford University. There, learners told us that, “it’s really good to get the experience of being put in the driver’s seat, of making the decisions…I think it will give me more confidence to make those decisions [in real life]”.

 

What is more, simulation-based training as been shown to improve junior clincian’s confidence in pushing for improved patient outcomes within real life treatment. Healthcare training is inherently hierarchical and this can often mean that trainees are afraid to speak up when they think a senior colleague is not administering the right kind of treatment. 

In a study carried out by the University of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, simulation was shown to increase the frequency and quality of interventions by Residents in the care suggested by their seniors. 

Simulation can therefore be seen to not only improve patient care by bolstering the doctor or nurses confidence in their individual practice, but also promoting appropriate assertion in challenging a treatment plan when they think there might be a better way. 

 

3. Simulation lets us learn from our mistakes 

In our personal and professional lives we learn best from the mistakes we make. Cultivating an attitude that embraces mistakes as an inevitable part of life that can be mined for valuable lessons is an effective way to successfully avoid making mistakes in the future. Within the context of healthcare however – where the price of our mistakes can be fatal – this kind of philosophy can be hard to accept. 

In practicing simulation a safe-space is created in which healthcare professionals can refine their clinical skills without the risk of harming real patients. When effective debrief is built into simulation, the learnings taken from this form of training  are invaluable. With learners identifying strengths and areas for improvement in a supportive atmosphere. This is a powerful combination that mitigates against these mistakes being made in real life. 

Further, the emphasis on debrief engenders good habits of self-reflection for trainees to take through their entire professional careers. When clinicians are used to assessing their own practice regularly they are personally assuring the quality of the care they provide. 

 

4. Simulation works across all healthcare disciplines 

Simulation works effectively across all healthcare domains including; medicine, nursing, paediatrics, mental health, surgery, emergency care, life-saving and more. What is more, simulation surpasses all other training mechanisms in touching the most comprehensive set of skills ranging from specific procedures to communication and teamwork. 

The controlled nature of simulation means that institutions can ensure learners are exposed to as wide a range of clinical presentations as possible to build up depth of knowledge. Stress conditions can be put in place to mirror real life scenarios and test trainees ability to cope under pressure. The debrief that follows these experiences means that learnings are not lost or left open to individual interpretation. 

Simulation is also deliverable across multiple platforms. Mannequin-based simulation has long been used to produce life-like conditions in which learners can practice patient management. Similarly, the use of standardized patients in simulation is effective in creating a true-to-life environment where learners are able to interact with a real person. Increasingly, virtual reality is being used to deliver repeatable, immersive simulation at scale. 

 

5. Simulation is widely practiced worldwide

We’ve often heard it said that – if you do not work in healthcare – simulation is probably the biggest industry that you’ve never heard of. When you stop to think about it – it makes sense. You wouldn’t expect pilots to fly planes without practicing in simulators first – so why should we expect the people taking care of our health not to do so as well? 

There are hundreds of organisations, institutions and individuals doing wonderful things in simulation across the world.  Organisations such as SSH and ASPiH organise renowned international events like the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) to encourage knowledge sharing and best practice. 

As part of Healthcare Simulation Week, Boston Children’s Hospital hosted a Facebook Live event to give the community insights into how its state-of-the-art paediatric simulation center works. Having run an immeasurably impactful simulation programme for over a decade, BCH has now taken is simulation capabilities on the road. Offering over 50 courses at nine institutions across eastern Massachusetts – its SIM Network initiative shows that simulation best practice can be distributed at scale. 

In the UK, the NHS Diabetes Programme is using simulation to directly impact the treatment of people with Type 1 diabetes. Using the OMS virtual reality simulation platform, doctors are able to practice treatment before they see real life patients. Diabetes treatment can be notoriously tricky and for many doctors the first time they have to manage diabetes-related cases is in real life. Using simulation, the NHS is able to train doctors on the specific complexities to look out for, without compromising the quality of patient care. 

The healthcare team at St Luke’s University, Pennsylvania, have customised a freight truck to serve as a mobile simulation suite. Offering training opportunities across disciplines, people that live in remote areas that once may have been unable to access a healthcare education are now able to access valuable resources to further their careers. In this way, St Luke’s mobile simulation operation is promoting diversity and social mobility in healthcare and beyond.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which simulation is being leveraged to improve healthcare training and education, and in turn, our healthcare systems and standards of patient care. 

Happy Healthcare Simulation Week! 

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Oculus Rift S Updates: what do they mean for Virtual Reality simulation? 

Healthcare professional trying out virtual reality medical simulation on the Rift S

For the past few weeks we’ve been avidly testing out the latest Oculus Rift S kit.

The new hardware’s inside-out tracking shows the progression of VR technology and can only mean better, more exciting things for the world of healthcare simulation. 

So, what’s changed? 

The most significant difference between the new Rift S model and its predecessor, the Rift, is that it using inside-out tracking. This means that the sensors now sit inside the headset rather than using a separate desk-mounted sensor as with the original Rift. It has simpler halo-style headband making it easier to put on and the original over ear headphones have been replaced with directional speakers embedded into the headband. 

The screen resolution on the Rift S is slightly higher than previous models and they way the user sets up their guardian fields (ie the area in which you can “play” in VR) has changed. Now operated from entirely within VR, you draw a line to mark out your play area to map it out more precisely. New outward facing cameras on the Rift S headset mean you switch to seeing your real-world surroundings if you move outside of the physical space you’re meant to be in. It’s a clever feature that means you no longer have to worry about bumping into anything or anyone whilst your immersed in the virtual space. 

What do these changes mean for virtual reality simulation? 

In terms of how learners use the OMS simulation platform, the move to the Rift S won’t require you to change anything at all. Whether you’re using a Rift S or and original Rift model, you can still train healthcare professionals using fully immersive VR medical and nursing scenarios as before, and there are some added benefits. 

Firstly, freeing the headset from the external sensors means that the setup is even easier and quicker and the Rift S is smaller, making it even easier to store and transport. Particularly if you are looking for simulation suite that can be used across multiple sites then the Rift S is perfect.

The new guardian set up allows users to take full advantage of the six degrees of freedom (how your movement in the real world matches your movement in the virtual world) in a much simpler format. The guardian system allows you to more easily avoid any fixtures and fittings that might otherwise get in the way and interrupt your immersive experience. Because users can now view their surroundings without coming out of VR – health and safety is assured and the capacity for independent learning of VR simulation is further enhanced. 

In conclusion, in terms of learning outcomes and visual experience, the Rift S offers much the same experience as the original Rift – ie excellent. The improvements made on the Rift S tend to make the practical experience of setting up and implementing simulation simpler with fewer pieces of hardware and the smaller, more transportable kit. All of this means the Rift S continues to allow VR to provide simulation at scale, to deliver all the benefits of OMS VR simulation. 

If you want to try out the OMS VR medical or nursing simulation platform on the Rift S get in touch with one of our Educational Specialists today.

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NHS doctors train using virtual reality to improve care for people with diabetes

The NHS England diabetes team has partnered with Oxford Medical Simulation to train doctors using virtual reality. Doctors can now practice in virtual reality medical emergencies, to improve care for patients with diabetes in the real world. Combining clinical expertise from the NHS, volunteer patient input and world leading virtual reality software, doctors can now put on virtual reality headsets and practice taking care of patients as often as they want, without risking lives. The system is being piloted through Health Education England in a multicentre trial in the South of England, with development funded by Novo Nordisk. If supported by evidence from the pilot there are plans for further roll-outs nationwide throughout 2019.

People with Type 1 diabetes have more chance of developing life-threatening complications when in hospital than outside it. For people with diabetes, extreme highs and lows in blood sugar can be fatal. These emergencies can be difficult for doctors and nurses to recognise but can be fatal if not treated quickly. High quality training for frontline staff is vital to improve patient care in these situations. “When I was in training we’d learn on the wards. It was called ‘see one, do one, teach one’, commented Dr Jack Pottle, an NHS clinical entrepreneur and co-founder of Oxford Medical Simulation, a virtual reality medical training company based in London. “I had never practiced managing a diabetic emergency until I had to do it in real life. You wouldn’t expect a pilot to fly a plane full of passengers without having practiced first. Why do we think that’s acceptable for doctors and nurses?”

Dr Partha Kar, NHS England Clinical Director of Diabetes said: “Embracing technology is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan and training doctors using virtual reality is another example of modernising the NHS to help improve care for patients with diabetes.” Individuals who helped to develop this project included Dr Mayank Patel, Dr Ritwika Mallik and Mr Neil Sweeney.

Margot James, Minister of State for Digital and Creative Industries said: “Oxford Medical Simulation is a great example of the ground-breaking digital companies that the UK is constantly producing, I was hugely impressed when I met the company and tried their technology earlier this year and it’s great that it will now provide training for doctors across the NHS as they treat patients with diabetes.”

For more information please contact: Dr Jack Pottle, Oxford Medical Simulation Tel UK: 07515 281397 Phone international: +44 7515 281397 Email: [email protected]

Oxford Medical Simulation delivers virtual reality medical training. Using Oculus Rift VR headsets, learners can practice in immersive, fully-interactive clinical scenarios as if in real life. They then receive personalised feedback and can repeat as often as they like to improve performance. These scenarios deliver consistently excellent, standardised clinical training for students, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The focus is on clinical decision-making under pressure, crisis resource management, team interaction and patient engagement. Oxford Medical Simulation allows healthcare professionals to learn through practice, without risking patient lives, to improve patient care.