Tag Archives: Virtual Reality

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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What is XR, and How is it Transforming Healthcare?

Johns Hopkins Simulation VR team
Johns Hopkins Simulation VR team

Developments in healthcare technology are now more exciting than ever. With increasing pressure on health services, it’s now crucial to use emerging technologies to support staff, reduce human error, and improve patient outcomes.

Enter XR — a group of technologies, first seen in gaming and education, that are now shaking up all aspects of healthcare.

With the global healthcare market for XR estimated to reach $4.6bn in the US alone by 2025, XR is a game-changer for healthcare systems — and there are surprising possibilities for its use in training, recruitment, and beyond!

What is XR?

XR — or Extended Reality — is an umbrella term for all immersive technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). These all “extend” our reality by blending the real world with computer-generated elements or by creating an entirely immersive virtual experience.


Virtual reality (VR)
is arguably the most well-known of all XR technologies. Using a Head-Mounted Device (HMD), like the Meta Quest 2 or Pico Neo 3, users receive a completely immersive experience. This experience can be simple, like a 360° video of a real-life setting, or a completely interactive, adaptive virtual environment. 

What are the uses of VR in healthcare? There are plenty! On the educational side, platforms such as OMS can deliver virtual clinical experiences to healthcare students and practicing clinicians alike. Were OMS focuses on training for nurses and physicians, other virtual reality platforms serve procedural training for surgeons. Beyond that, VR has direct applications to patient care, such as  gamifying physical therapy sessions to speed up recovery times, and using immersive, controlled scenarios to improve outcomes in mental health patients.


Augmented reality (AR)
superimposes computer-generated content over what you see in the real world and is used mainly with phone apps and smart glasses. Though it doesn’t offer the total immersion of virtual reality, AR is a valuable tool for overlaying additional information in a real-world environment.

Augmented reality offers some fantastic benefits to healthcare training and patient care. For example, institutions have leveraged AR to improve the success rate of intravenous injection by mapping vein structures onto the surface of a patient’s skin.


Mixed reality (MR)
has similarities to augmented reality in that a device projects computer-generated content over the real world. The fundamental difference is that mixed reality content is responsive and spatially aware. For example, a ball dropped in MR could bounce when it hits an object in your space, making the experience more interactive.

In healthcare, mixed reality can extend the impact of more limited training equipment. One application uses MR to provide dynamic feedback on low-fidelity manikins, which helps to maximize manikin functionality and significantly improves learning outcomes.

Learners using a high-fidelity manikin in training
XR offers several benefits over resource-intensive manikin simulation
A cardiac exam taking place in virtual reality sim
VR cardiac examination

What Benefits Does XR Offer Over Physical Training?

XR revolutionizes the traditional approach to healthcare training. Where learners would previously have only had occasional opportunities to practice on manikins, they can now practice whenever and wherever they need with virtual patients in adaptive VR scenarios.

This allows trainees and practitioners alike to practice safely, developing their skills and confidence in a lifelike environment, with improved learner outcomes

The most exciting part about XR technologies in healthcare training? They require fewer resources, reach more learners, and can provide feedback on improvement over time — helping you prove that you’re getting a return on your investment.

Fewer resources

Hands-on experience with real patients is an invaluable way for healthcare trainees and professionals to develop their skills — but it comes with the added risk of putting patients’ lives in danger. Manikin-based simulation was designed to bridge this gap, allowing students to learn from their mistakes safely.

Sadly, there are still drawbacks to this method of training. To anyone familiar with physical simulation, it should come as no surprise that the setup is expensive and resource-intensive. In addition, the equipment requires considerable space, ongoing maintenance, and dedicated faculty to run every session. XR platforms differ in that they’re relatively inexpensive, require a fraction of the space, and many require little-to-no external supervision once configured. Virtual reality allows you to create multiple environments using the same platform — such as maternity labs and outpatient clinics — helping you deliver outstanding healthcare education to as many learners as possible.

More scalable

Because of physical simulation’s resource constraints, scaling up operations to meet demand is rarely workable. Institutions don’t always have the time, money, or faculty needed to give learners on-demand access to the training they need. The good news is that these obstacles don’t apply to XR, so you can facilitate truly flexible learning. Cost-savings, portability, and the possibility of unsupervised practice mean that users can train anywhere, at any time, repeating simulations as often as needed to hone their skills.

Better feedback

Even the best technician will find it impossible to operate a scenario exactly the same way consistently, which makes it challenging to measure cohort performance. Additionally, the debriefing process is rarely recorded, and learners can’t effectively benchmark their efforts. On the other hand, standardized XR platforms give the same experience to each user every time without fail. Even better, platforms like OMS use advanced analytics, so users can track their improvement over time and understand how to improve.

Arrange a free demo to find out how VR sim can meet your institution’s needs.

How Can XR Be Used Besides Education?

We’ve explored why XR is an ideal medium to supplement physical simulation and education in healthcare. Still, there are so many other ways that technology is useful in healthcare. This is especially true of virtual reality.

Ongoing training

Learning shouldn’t stop when students graduate. Up to 57% of new RNs leave their roles because of an inability to ensure patient safety, and a lack of ongoing training plays a key role. The portable, scalable nature of XR lends perfectly to solving this dilemma. Users are free to brush up on existing skills — and learn new ones — in a safe context before transferring their learning to actual patients. A vast library of scenarios with VR means a wide range of staff can access tailored learning opportunities. The flexibility of the tech also means that busy doctors and nurses can fit in training around their hectic schedules without too much prior scheduling.

Recruiting the best staff

With up to $250,000 invested in a single physician candidate (and around $82,000 for a nurse), hiring the right person for the job is vital. This makes virtual reality an ideal medium for hiring managers. It can help remove bias, test skills in a standardized environment, and impress top candidates by using innovative tech to show that institutions are willing to invest in staff development.

Encouraging staff retention

The average US hospital has turned over 80% of its RN workforce in the last five years, and annual physician relocation rates sit at around 11–18%. Healthcare institutions must invest in their workforce to promote a happier, more engaged culture. Integrating novel technologies (such as XR) into training programs can encourage job satisfaction, and analytics feedback from platforms such as OMS can help faculty identify who needs extra support. Virtual reality is also great at expanding user perspectives, which can be crucial for reducing interprofessional barriers and encouraging collaborative environments.

Improving remediation of healthcare professionals

In healthcare, ensuring patient safety is vital, so staff underperformance is a cause for concern. The problem is this: remediation programs lack uniformity, and there’s little research to suggest whether outcomes are successful. XR can help to change this by providing standardized training that easily integrates into remediation programs. Some platforms even offer detailed analytical feedback to suggest whether staff are genuinely making progress. Even better, tracking performance in this way can help to catch issues early so that institutions can proactively address concerns before patients are exposed to potential harm.


Summary

Extended reality is at the forefront of the new, exciting innovations in healthcare. It’s widely acknowledged as a formidable tool for its educational applications, but there is so much more to what AR, MR, and VR can offer. 

As champions of virtual reality healthcare simulation, we’re particularly excited about the possibilities that VR provides in training competent nurses and physicians, hiring the best candidates, encouraging retention in valued employees, and supporting healthcare professionals to practice safely and elevate their performance.

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‘This will translate to the real world’: Nursing students learn skills through virtual reality

Nursing student being introduced to a scenario at UNE

Nursing students have had few opportunities to learn in hospital settings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as this report from reports the Maine News Center demonstrates, virtual reality simulation from OMS is allowing students at the University of New England’s School of Nursing and Population Health  to learn skills that prepare them for the real world.

During class on UNE’s Portland campus, nursing students use virtual reality scenarios from OMS to assess patients as they would in real life. 

Having opportunities to build confidence and competence in this way is vital, as research shows that only 23% of nurses graduate feeling prepared for practice and 50% of entry-level nurses are involved in practice errors.

The inability to practice has only been made worse over the pandemic. As Dawne-Marie Dunbar, the director of the UNE Simulation Center notes:

“With the challenges of COVID-19, oftentimes are units are closed to our students, so being able to experience in the virtual reality has been a huge benefit”

— Dawne-Marie Dunbar, Director of the UNE Simulation Center

Nursing student being introduced to a scenario at UNE
Nursing student being introduced to a scenario at UNE
Dawne-Marie Dunbar, Director of the UNE Simulation Center

Some scenarios takes place in a hospital maternity ward. Students must first determine the symptoms of a pregnant patient, who was just sent over from her doctor’s office. Students check reflexes, vital signs of both mom and baby. 

As VR immerses completely immerses students in the virtual world, it convinces  the brain into believing the experience is real. Kathleen Humphries, who is a senior in the program, said the scenarios make her feel like she is actually in the room with the patient and allows more practice in emergency cases: 

“It allows us to screen for more critical cases where we need to do interventions and call providers”

— Kathleen Humphries, nursing student

After the students run through a scenario, they get immediate feedback on their mistakes without the stress of “practicing” skills on a real patient.

Developing this confidence is crucial to develop independent, capable nurses of the future. A 2020 report highlighted poor clinical decision-making as a factor in 65% of entry-level nurse errors and also found that just one-third of graduate nurses are confident in their practice. 

The good news is that VR simulation scenarios such as those used by UNE can significantly improve knowledge retention and self-confidence in learners. Unlike with traditional training, scenarios can also can be repeated as often as needed to improve skills.

“A lot of times we can go back in and redo the scenario and it’s a good opportunity to really learn”

— Katy Hancock, nursing student

Following the ongoing success of the VR program in nursing, the team at UNE are now looking to expand VR to cover PAs and other healthcare professionals. 

Interested in trying VR sim? Arrange a free demo with us today.

OMS named as finalists at the VR Awards

OMS Interprofessional makes the finals of the 2020 VR Awards

We are honored and excited to have been nominated as a finalist for the 2020 VR Awards for OMS Interprofessional.

OMS Interprofessional is the multiplayer virtual reality platform from Oxford Medical Simulation. Designed to provide immersive training opportunities for doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals, OMS Interprofessional lets clinicians work together wherever they are in the world. 

A doctor in California can now work with a nurse in Oxford and a facilitator in Baltimore to treat virtual patients. Participants can speak to the virtual patient and each other in real time, carry out examinations, make diagnoses and provide treatments just like in real life.

They can then learn from personalized feedback and repeat as often as they need in order to provide the best care for patients in real life. Using OMS Interprofessional can optimize quality of training while freeing up time, space and money to help hospitals provide optimal patient care.

Winners will be announced in November – until then we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed! 

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Video: VR Simulation at Oxford University

VR medical simulation

Dr Sally Shiels discusses the value of VR simulation at the OxSTaR simulation centre in the Oxford University Hospital Trust

VR simulation

Dr. Sally Shiels is an anaesthetist at OxSTaR (Oxford Simulation, Teaching and Research), the purpose-built, state-of-the-art medical simulation teaching and research facility in Oxford University Hospital.

Sally discusses virtual reality’s impact on training for medical students and clinicians, how immersive technology is supporting patient safety, and the types of programs the OxSTaR center are developing.

“Providing our students with virtual patients has been an absolute sea change in terms of medical education” 

Using OMS has allowed OxSTaR to expand their training capabilities, preparing medical students more fully for clinical practice, in order to improve patient safety.

“We’re taking our students into a virtual world where they can learn safely, and that is really important, because then they feel safe to make mistakes.”

Learn more about the work Oxford University are doing with OMS using the link below, or see PharmaComms TV for the original content.

OxSTAR and VIRTUAL REALITY

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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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Video: OMS Interprofessional at IMSH 2020

IMSH 2020 VR - OMS

Dr. Jack Pottle outlines OMS Interprofessional during the IMSH 2020 conference

Interprofessional Education (IPE) in VR

Dr. Jack Pottle, Chief Medical Officer of Oxford Medical Simulation, speaks with the team at HealthySimulation about the OMS VR simulation system.

“OMS is taking the traditional way we do simulation and scaling it – saving time, saving space and saving money” 

Designed for medical and nursing professionals of all levels, Dr Pottle outlines the development of OMS Interprofessional – the IPE mode that allows clinicians to treat virtual patients together wherever they are in the world. OMS is helping healthcare system expand and optimize their simulation delivery to improve patient care…

“Allowing hospitals, hospital systems and simulation centers deliver training that is objective, standardized and of seriously high quality. It feels real; it improves performance”

Learn more about the OMS platform here, or discover more about interprofessional simulation below.

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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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The Joy of VR: what we learned when the leading virtual reality healthcare minds gathered in Los Angeles

We attended the Virtual Medicine conference at Cedars Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles where we joined leaders in the virtual reality healthcare space to discuss the latest developments – and applications – of VR in patient care and medical education.

Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) was proud to join other leading thinkers excited about the potential of virtual reality in healthcare. The Virtual Medicine conference (vMed) brought together not only healthcare professionals, but also researchers, technical developers, business leaders and patients. This made showcasing our virtual reality scenarios for healthcare training during the event all the more special.

As always, we loved getting VR newbies into the system to demo how intuitive VR can be, and it was even more encouraging to get the endorsement of VR experts who live and breath virtual reality in healthcare.

We were excited that when healthcare professionals entered our scenarios for a quick taste they quickly became so immersed that they were determined to save the patient, or delve into the details to find out more. Surprised at the level of realism in one of our virtual patient’s histories, one user at vMed19 announced;

“Whoa! I’m going to ask about his social history! I want to know what kind of recreational drugs he uses.”

Only in Los Angeles!

Besides the kind words about our own platform, we received a fascinating update into the other ways in which VR is impacting healthcare for the better. From helping to manage pain associated with Crohn’s Disease, to facilitating reminiscence therapy in people with dementia, the applications of therapeutic VR just keep growing. Dr David Rhew (Chief Medical Officer at Samsung Electronics America) gave a compelling talk on the effects of VR on people with dementia, loneliness and concussion amongst a host of other applications. In the case of concussions, VR is now proving to be as effective as sleep, exercise and education. Former Cedars Sinai patient Harmon Clarke recalled how meditating and travelling in VR during his hospital stay, instead of relying solely on pain medication, accelerated his recovery from Crohn’s disease.

The Patient Panel on Day 2 was another highlight: the moving accounts of four patients who had experienced therapeutic VR really brought home the positive results that this technology can have.

Research on the efficacy and optimal methods of delivering VR therapy remains in its infancy and is a fascinating topic. The groundbreaking work done by Skip Rizzo on the applications of VR to treat PTSD and anxiety in particular and Mel Slater on VR in cognitive neuroscience and body-swapping keep us pushing the boundaries of what VR can do and how it can deeply affect individuals perceptions and abilities to learn.

Despite the excitement of the forefront on the technology, the ongoing message of matching appropriate immersive content and delivery to the individual’s needs remains central to all VR design. At OMS we couldn’t agree more. We often ask ourselves and others considering virtual reality “what are your learning objectives?” and ensure that everything we design meets a specific need.

Cedars Sinai Medical Centre proved to be a compelling setting for the event, too. Set against the backdrop of one of the largest academic health centres in the US, the discussions, revelations and real life stories felt even more relevant. It almost felt like we – as a global VR in healthcare community – were more galvanised, united and inspired by physically locating us within the system we’re seeking to change.

It was this collective feeling of inspiration and celebration that made vMed19 such an impactful conference. The world’s leading thinkers and innovators in VR medicine came together in one place to share new developments and celebrate success stories, and we left with a boosted motivation to continue our work in the space. Brennan Spiegel, Director of Health Research at Cedars Sinai and the driving force behind the vMed conference summed up this feeling best when he offered some uplifting advice in his closing remarks:

“VR offers joy. Leverage that like crazy.”

We couldn’t agree more!

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