Effective healthcare simulations for a digital world

Learner working on laptop doing a healthcare simulation with multiple choice

For those training to work in various healthcare roles, clinical practice is a key aspect of the learning process.

Clinical hours are in place to practice the theory that has already been learnt. It’s a crucial part of healthcare courses to improve the quality and process of care.

A digital future

Clinical practice has mostly been done face-to-face in true settings. However, healthcare has been undergoing a digital revolution as technology becomes more advanced. Plus, there has been a rising demand for VR healthcare training.

A recent review highlighted that clinical practice hours with simulation has shown to be equivalent with traditional clinical practice in regards to skills, knowledge, and confidence. Additionally, early last year Fundamental Surgery surgical simulator was accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

For the healthcare sector this is a significant movement. It proves that simulated training can be equally as effective as clinical practice. Although it could be high cost it’s a realistic, engaging and immersive route for healthcare professionals (Oxford Simulations). Therefore, more efficient in the long run.

Whilst we’re going through a pandemic there has been a demand for quicker training. In that case, healthcare simulations could be the better option. But is it safe to rely on technology to adequately train those who need it?

Elearning for healthcare

VR simulations can be quite costly. There are other more cost effective routes that the healthcare sector has been making use of.

e-Learning for Healthcare work in partnership with the NHS to train healthcare workers to support patient care. With time and finance restrictions, they ensure training is consistent. As well as high quality and flexible. With this the need for more trained workers can be addressed more efficiently.

Research has shown that elearning can be more engaging than the classroom. Plus, it makes learning more flexible – it can be completed anywhere with an internet connection. Hence why elearning has become so popular over the years.

Most elearning courses are engaging and interactive, but many don’t provide a true-to-life experiences. Most courses are text and image based, with interactive questions. Although this is a great way to gain and test knowledge, more immersive learning can provide real experiences and challenges.

A more immersive experience

To provide true-to-life experience for those in training, simulations can be a more reliable option. Simulations immerse learners by imitating processes, systems and experiences (Simul8). Although every patient, case and challenge is different they allow room for practice.

Immersive experiences not only improve knowledge retention, they connect with learners’ emotions. This builds a connection with the trainee. Enabling them to understand their actions and behaviours in depth.

Simulations also provide a safe space for trainees to make mistakes without harming patients. Through pandemic’s like the current and other challenges faced across the world, they also ensure no harm is done to the trainee.

With classrooms out of bounds for the time being, simulations can be done anywhere where there is an internet connection, like many elearning courses. With a demand for more trained workers, this form of learning can allow training to resume as usual.

Simulations are a risk free, flexible and engaging way to train.

Cost-effective simulations

With financial barriers in mind, similar experiences can be created in a much more cost effective way.

Many simulations use CGI animations and VR. However, there are tools and platforms available which allow you to create high quality animations yourself in a short space of time. Your animations can then be migrated into an authoring tool, like Near-Life™ CREATOR to add in interactions and quizzes.

Incorporating interactions into your animations can make training more engaging. They provides a way to challenge your learners to give a more true-to-life clinical experience. With Near-Life™ you have the opportunity to create pre and post training quizzes. These allow you to analyse how well the training has worked as well as helping to develop further training, if required.

An alternative way to do this is through filmed scenarios and role-play. With the use of actors and staged or real clinical environments, you can imitate real life scenarios and challenges. To immerse your trainees you can add in interactive choices and create the learning in a way that allows the narrative to unfold depending on the choices they make.

At Near-Life™ this is something we specialise in. We believe that this is a good way to test knowledge, to engage, and for trainees to understand why their choices are correct or incorrect. Learning this way is beneficial as it can be failed and tried again without harming patients or workers. North West Ambulance Service and St John Ambulance have used the Near-Life™ approach to improve patient care.

Will healthcare simulations become the future of our remote world?

Many of us around the world are working and learning remotely. So what’s to say that healthcare training can’t become the same. Healthcare simulations are definitely a way to provide very realistic clinical practice, away from clinical settings.

With the correct technology and careful planning, simulations can be created to engage and immerse trainees whilst teaching them the fundamentals. With the possibility of simulations being more cost effective, flexible and safe, it’s definitely a route that healthcare trainers should consider.


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