Ready to step into the wide world of virtual reality simulation but need help kicking off your search? It can feel daunting to start the process of updating or progressing an educational or training program, but with the right partner, it can feel like you’ve got a knowledgeable guide helping you to find the right solution for you.
If you know you’re in search of a VR vendor for healthcare education or training, you likely already have some knowledge of how VR simulation can positively impact patients and reduce costs.
Even so, there’s a significant amount of information out there, and you may not be sure what the criteria are that will make a difference to your decision-making process.
That’s why we’ve created this guide – to give you a sense of what to look for and how to select the right VR partner for you!
Can learners engage solo and with supervision?
Do you want your learners to use VR only when a colleague or faculty member is present? Or do you want them to be able to remotely access simulations anytime and any place, with or without a supervisor?
If you’re looking to deliver VR simulation to a large number of learners, or to use VR simulation remotely, finding a solution that delivers automated scenarios and feedback is vital.
In addition to removing scheduling barriers, automated scenarios provide unlimited repeatability, allowing your learners to grow their skills through as much self-directed practice as they need.
It also allows them to practice alone before leading cases in front of their peers, ensuring psychological safety – so it’s worth considering how important this is to you early on in the process.
Does it work on screen and in VR?
Consider where and when your learners will be able to access these scenarios. If you’re looking for more flexibility, you may want to consider a partner that caters to both virtual reality simulations and on-screen simulations.
Due to a number of factors, some people may not be able to use VR. Providing on-screen simulations in addition to VR can serve as an alternative solution for these learners, opening accessibility for those who otherwise would not be able to participate – as well as ensuring ADA compliance.
The flexibility of both VR and on-screen scenarios also grants learners access to simulations at home – even if they don’t have a VR headset – to further increase your ability to scale simulation remotely.
With options to run scenarios both in VR and on-screen, with or without faculty, the OMS platform ensures you have all the flexibility you need.
How flexible is the team?
Flexibility isn’t just about the product, it’s also about the team. A flexible team can accommodate your time, get creative with solutions, advise on the best ways to implement, and remain available for any questions.
Consider what support you might need throughout the decision-making and implementation process. Do you need curriculum or implementation advice? Do you want to hear who the company has partnered with before? Do you need a demo to ensure you’re happy with the product?
Asking yourself questions like these will give you a sense of the kind of experience you’re looking for, what impact you’re looking to create, and how flexible your VR partner should be.
Likely one of the key features you’ll be interested to know about your potential VR partner involves the quality of their scenarios.
How realistic is it?
First things first, VR simulations should feel real – they should be dynamic, feature realistic characters, and have robust narratives.
Some virtual platforms have linear or branching scenarios – similar to a choose-your-own adventure – but this simplicity isn’t how clinicians and patients operate in the real world, so always ask a potential VR partner about how their scenarios function.
- Are there multiple paths through a scenario?
- Can you make mistakes?
- Can you multitask?
- Can you see the effects of illness in a patient simply through observation?
- Is the patient’s conversation, behavior, and physiology adaptive?
All of these factors increase the realism of the experience, and at OMS, the answer to all of the above is ‘yes’.
OMS uses AI-controlled patients who respond differently depending on what’s been said or done already, allowing each learner to have a unique experience.
An unwellness system provides the opportunity for learners to detect non-verbal signs or cues that they will inevitably encounter in the clinic, such as sudden-onset pallor or clamminess. Patients’ signs and symptoms can also change throughout the scenario – from their vital signs to lung sounds to skin integrity – all driven by a dynamic physiology engine.
This delivery of functional fidelity and narrative depth is what allows OMS scenarios to feel real and remain non-linear, ensuring that experiences can play out in many ways. It’s all up to your learner to direct the situation and act accordingly!
What’s the evidence base?
It’s essential that scenarios be grounded in current evidence and best practices to simulate comprehensive, realistic clinical situations. Beyond the scenarios themselves, feedback that is peer-reviewed can provide a meaningful basis for tracking progress and competency.
OMS utilizes our expert in-house authoring team – composed of leading simulationists and educators – to write scenarios rooted in the latest evidence. Scenarios then undergo a rigorous peer-review process to provide reliable and accurate simulations for your learners.
Having fidelity in simulation isn’t necessarily enough, so make sure your VR partner explains how they create scenarios and if those scenarios are based on the latest evidence.
Can I do individual and team training?
Think about how important it is for your learners to go into scenarios alone and with others.
Just like you would expect in the clinic, OMS Individual uses single-player scenarios that place your learner in the position to direct patient care – working on their own with a focus on clinical reasoning, critical thinking, and decision making via deliberate practice.
If you’d also like your learners to be able to work together in simulations, consider whether your VR partner offers multiplayer scenarios.
OMS Interprofessional allows learners to work in-tandem or in teams, wherever they are in the world, to coordinate and deliver care. From determining roles to discussing the case to prioritizing interventions, these scenarios maintain a focus on interdisciplinary teamwork, collaboration, clinical reasoning, and communication skills.
Can I see multiple patients at once?
Clinicians rarely care for one patient at a time, so consider if your VR partner provides multi-patient scenarios to help your learners prepare for practice more effectively.
OMS Multipatient scenarios require learners to prioritize care in evolving situations with various patients at the same time, just as healthcare professionals do regularly in the clinic.
As learners handle these dynamic simulations, they’ll have the chance to work on care prioritization and reprioritization, multitasking, delegating, and patient and interprofessional communication in order to effectively manage the complex nature of healthcare practice.
Can I teach procedures and communication skills?
Ask your potential VR partner if they build out other types of scenarios, as well. Not just single-player vs multiplayer, or single-patient vs multi-patient, but also scenarios with hand control and voice control.
With OMS, you have the freedom to practice however you like to meet a particular goal or competency.
For instance, procedural scenarios use hand control to allow for repeated practice in technical skills. They give the learner the chance to develop much-needed muscle memory for a particular skill or procedure, with vibrotactile haptic feedback to simulate any level of interaction.
Scenarios using voice control require learners to actually speak with a patient and the team to gather information, convey empathy, educate, or de-escalate as needed.
As the use of voice and hand control adds layers of complexity and cognitive load to scenarios, the possibilities are seemingly endless (and maybe even a bit overwhelming)! Your VR partner should help you understand the options available to you, so you can make an informed decision about what types of scenarios will best serve your learners.
3. Breadth of content
What specialties are covered?
You may need your learners to gain experience or increase their practice in different settings or conditions – perhaps your learners plan to work in the inpatient or outpatient setting, or maybe you need them to have experiences in both maternity and pediatric care.
OMS has an array of scenarios, across 30 different libraries, with topics ranging from diabetes management to mental health to acute illness and advanced life support. The variation in scenarios gives you the ability to accommodate for different learning levels, and the ability to select specific cases can help you match the needs of your curriculum.
Let your potential VR partner know about the types of content you’re looking for – they may just be able to partner with you to create a custom plan with bespoke content that fits exactly your needs.
4. Feedback & analytics
Providing meaningful feedback is an essential part of any simulation. You may be looking for a VR partner who can provide instant feedback to learners and deliver performance data in a way that is objective and standardized.
What feedback do learners get?
Ask yourself if you want the feedback your learners receive to provide evidence-based, unbiased advice to help them improve after every scenario.
What about the ability to use your VR platform to benchmark performance or even to be used for formative and summative assessment?
OMS has focused on exactly this, providing instant, standardized feedback on what learners have done well or what they’ve missed – broken down by the critical, the important, and the additional.
Feedback also comments on the timing, prioritization, and frequency of actions. It touches on how well learners collaborated with their team, guiding them on exactly where to improve for next time.
To bolster learning even more, there is best-practice evidence to dive into with each comment, so learners not only see whether they hit the criteria, but they also see the rationale for each step along the way.
What analytics are provided?
Another critical feature to discuss with your future VR partner is what types of insights you can expect to gain from partnering with them.
If you want to tease it out in more detail, ask:
- Do they have an objective scoring system?
- Can analytics be used for formative and summative assessment?
- Can you track learner improvements over time?
- Can analytics be linked with learning management systems?
Depending on the partner you choose, you may have access to all sorts of information and insights. Your VR partner should be able to discuss with you the data you can expect to see, who can view it, and how it can be used most effectively to bolster your learners’ knowledge and track their progress over time.
Do scenarios link with competency frameworks?
It’s vital that your scenarios be evidence-based, and while simulation itself can be a promising tool for promoting competencies, it can be a challenge to implement virtual reality simulations that track progress in a way that aligns with current competency frameworks.
Simply put, it’s important that you’re able to measure progress towards competency in a meaningful and objective way.
OMS supercharges insights and analytics with competency mapping and tracking. You can select the competency framework you’d like to use, enabling you to see how your learners’ performance aligns with that particular competency.
For example, if you wanted to see how your learners are progressing towards their preparation for the NCLEX, you would be able to see data about how often your learners are taking actions within a scenario that aligns with each core competency.
Health promotion and maintenance, physiological integrity, psychosocial integrity, and safe and effective care each have their own insights, meaning you can easily view where your learners are performing well and where there’s room for improvement.
The ability to use immersive scenarios and have access to meaningful feedback can be immensely valuable in ensuring your learners are on the right track, and your VR partner should be able to explain that data and how it can benefit your program.
What can I do with your authoring platform?
Is it important for you to be able to customize scenarios to meet specific needs? If so, you may want a VR partner that provides an authoring platform.
Think about the level of control you’d like to have when you author. Are you just looking to tweak existing scenarios by changing vital signs, lab results, or patient conversation? Or are you looking to build new scenarios from scratch?
With OMS Create – OMS’s authoring platform – you can address the entire continuum. From busy educators who need to quickly adjust medication options, all the way to technologists who need to build multiple complex scenarios for new groups of learners – OMS Create has you covered.
Ask your potential VR partner what abilities you’ll have to make changes to enhance your learners’ clinical experiences.
Do you offer bespoke partnerships?
In working with your VR partner, could you truly partner with them?
In addition to authoring platforms, if you’re looking to grow your extended reality (XR) capabilities as an institution, it’s worth asking if there’s the opportunity to engage with your partner on custom content, quite literally designed to fit your needs.
Ask whether they’ve done this before, what the results were, and how the process works. You can even ask to be introduced to existing clients and partners for reference checks – you need to make sure they’re right for you!
How does pricing work?
As with any new venture, cost is always a factor, and you’ll likely be considering your budget as a factor in your selection of a VR partner.
It may be helpful to have a range that you’re comfortable with – this can help as you shop around to determine what kind of solution will ultimately give you the most for your money spent.
Conversations with a potential vendor should feel like talking to a trusted confidante about your challenges and how you can work together to address them. The right VR partner should work with you to develop the right plan to fit your needs while keeping in mind your budget.
Take stock of how you feel in these initial conversations. Does their expert understand your specific needs and goals? Are they answering questions you didn’t even know you had? Is ongoing support included in your package?
A VR partner should bring knowledge to the table and put your mind at ease by explaining all the steps you can expect to take throughout the process.
Finding your VR partner
All things considered, you’re probably looking for a VR partner that can:
- Inform you about VR – in general, and how it relates to your curriculum
- Provide flexibility in pricing or structuring
- Produce quality content and meaningful data
- Maintain open communication and support throughout the process
Coming from the world of healthcare, you likely want to work with a VR partner that has a team of people who understand the world of healthcare and VR simulation. Look at who makes up the team – are there clinicians and simulationists? It may be necessary for you to have people who can understand both!
Flexibility is an absolute requirement in today’s world. A VR partner should be able to provide you with flexibility and work to tailor a solution right for you.
Ensure that the scenarios meet your requirements and expectations. Consider the VR vendor’s current list of simulations, if they’re evidence-based, what their future scenarios look like, and if they can create custom content that meets your needs. Ask if you’ll be able to take advantage of any upcoming developments.
In speaking with a VR partner, you should walk away with an understanding of the data you can expect to see and how you’ll be able to use it to assess learners’ progress and promote competency.
A true partner walks the path with you, and communication is key to maintaining a good partnership. Your VR partner should be responsive and help you troubleshoot any issues along the way, virtually or onsite. Success and support teams should be ready to help you whenever you need it – not just when you’re getting started but throughout your entire experience.
OMS aims to optimize practitioner readiness and competence to improve patient care. It’s about the people who will use OMS – in the clinic, at home, or in the classroom – and the patients and families who will ultimately be impacted by that care.
The patient-minded staff at OMS have worked to develop a platform that can provide a safe space to practice and prepare your learners for the situations they may face in the clinic.
From scenarios to technical support to success teams, OMS works to understand and align with your needs, build your learners’ confidence and competence, and guide you along each step of the way.
To get a sense of what you can expect when partnering with OMS, send us your questions or set up a time to chat here.