Tag Archives: Virtual Reality

Choosing Your VR Partner: A Guide

Oculus On Table
Oculus On Table

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!

1. Flexibility

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. 

2. Quality

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.

In game shot of George feeling unwell

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.

Elderly patient in virtual reality
Patient in VR communication scenario

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.

Debrief after an OMS scenario

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. 

5. Customization

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. 

VR authoring platform - OMS Create

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! 

6. Budget

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:

  1. Inform you about VR – in general, and how it relates to your curriculum
  2. Provide flexibility in pricing or structuring
  3. Produce quality content and meaningful data
  4. 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.

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

OMS Partner with The Big 10 on Multi-Patient VR Simulation

University of Minnesota Nurse in VR
University of Minnesota Nurse in VR

At our core, the OMS team is made up of clinicians and healthcare educators. Like all of our colleagues in these fields we’ve become increasingly concerned by systemic issues in healthcare in being able to produce confident, competent, practice-ready healthcare professionals.

Thankfully, our company mission allows us to  be part of the solution. When we were selected to work with the The Big 10 Practice-Ready Nursing Initiative to do just that, we were prepared for the challenge.

Big 10 Practice-Ready Nursing Initiative is a partnership between the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, University of Michigan School of Nursing and Purdue University School of Nursing. The initiative was formed to respond to the issues arising from nurse graduates being unprepared to practice in today’s highly complex and dynamic care environments.

“As a caseload of patients increases, how do students learn how to prioritize care? How do they know what to do first and with which patient?”

– Cindy Bradley, Director of Simulation at UMN School of Nursing

To address these issues, the Big 10 has been exploring the strategies and curriculum integrations that a nursing school can employ to reduce the time their graduates need to onboard into the workplace. Ultimately, the aim is to prevent burnout and turnover in nursing. This initiative is supported by a $1.3 million grant from the American Nurses Foundation.

Enter VR simulation. Using the OMS virtual simulation platform and a VR headset, nursing students will be able to practice caring for multiple patients at once in a safe, risk-free virtual environment. By allowing more time to practice without risking patient safety, the project aims to demonstrate how nursing students’ confidence, competence and readiness for practice can be improved through virtual reality.

Virtual catheterisation
Virtual patient and instructor
Nurse at UMN
Nurse at UMN

Establishing a common goal was the easy part. The next phase of the project meant collaborating closely with the Big 10 to develop cutting edge multi-patient VR scenarios – pushing our platform to brand new heights in the process.

Cindy Bradley PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE, Director of Simulation at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing explains why multi-patient scenarios are so important: “As a caseload of patients increases, how do students learn how to prioritize care? How do they know what to do first and with which patient?”

Additionally, we have worked closely with the teams on the ground at the participating universities to ensure that all the necessary logistics are in place: from setting up VR headsets to ensuring onboarding guides are readily available.

Jannie White BSN, RN, CFRN, VP Client Solutions at OMS, describes how the partnership has come together around a shared vision: “A project like our collaboration with the Big 10 has a lot of moving parts. What has been most inspiring has been seeing how colleagues at OMS and The Big 10 have been galvanized towards a common objective. We knew going into this that we were pushing the boundaries of what could be done in VR simulation, and to be able to deliver on that with such success has been truly rewarding.”

“We are pushing the boundaries of what can be done in VR simulation, and to be able to deliver on that with such success has been truly rewarding.”

– Jannie White, VP Client Solutions at OMS

At the time of writing, the first two modules of the project have been completed – allowing students to scale up from managing a single patient to juggling two at a time. By the end of the program participants will have access to scenarios that involve managing up to five patients at once.

Bradley explains: “starting with one or two patients [students will work] their way up to a caseload of five. They’ll have more time to practice in a safe space without risking patient safety, while also gaining confidence and competence. Most importantly, they’ll be able to practice decision-making skills”.

The potential impact of the Big 10 and OMS collaboration reaches far further than the students that will be enrolled in the pilot project. Bradley imagines that, “With a headset and an internet connection, students anywhere can have the same learning experiences as students in our program”.

For OMS this project has proven to be symbiotic with our company mission: to improve patient care through increasing access to simulation.

Dr Jack Pottle, Chief Medical Officer at OMS, notes: “We founded OMS to address the global issues of preparing learners for the realities of working in healthcare today. These issues have only become more apparent in recent years. We’re delighted to be partnering with the Big 10 Initiative to further this mission whilst breaking new ground in VR simulation technology by offering true-to-life multi-patient scenarios.”

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

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.


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!