A few weeks ago I posted a blog about observation and usability labs. But that isn’t the only way to observe in a laboratory setting – our systems are also well suited for use in simulation labs.
A simulation lab enables researchers to develop realistic scenarios to study a range of human-system interactions in a controlled environment. It provides a lifelike point-of-care learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students, specialists, and experts. By conducting training sessions, students in the lab develop and maintain knowledge, skills, and competencies such as interviewing skills, working with certain equipment, teamwork procedures, and so on.
Simulation is a technique for practice and learning that can be applied to many different disciplines and types of trainees. It has been widely applied in fields such as aviation, the military, and health care.
Focus on patient safety and quality of care
In a clinical setting, for instance, simulation helps to augment patient safety and improve patient care. Teamwork training conducted in the simulated environment may offer an additive benefit to the traditional didactic instruction, enhance performance, and also help reduce errors. Simulation-based training is just like the real thing.
Early September I spent an afternoon in the auditorium of the Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands to listen to the PhD defense of Sophie Truijens. The main objective of her thesis is to contribute to the exploration of patient-reported outcomes in perinatal care by focusing on developing and validating questionnaires, evaluating the quality of perinatal care, evaluating the effect of simulation-based team training on patient reported quality of care, and assessing aspects of mental health during pregnancy.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
At the Máxima Medical Center in The Netherlands, Sophie Truijens and her team were involved in simulation-based team training with caregivers in obstetric care. Multiprofessional teams, including ambulance staff, maternity nurses, independent community midwives, obstetric nurses, hospital midwives, residents, and gynecologists were trained in communication and teamwork skills in the simulation lab.
Sophie emphasized in her thesis defense that repeating team training sessions is of the utmost importance. They observed that both trainees and trainers benefit from video recording the training scenarios, since this provides the opportunity to evaluate medical skills and non-medical skills in a more objective manner. Additionally, the video recordings proved very illustrative for self-evaluation. Soon, Sophie will publish a guest blog on our website with full details about her study.
Understand how users behave
Another example is W21C (www.w21c.org), a health systems research and innovation initiative based at the University of Calgary’s O’Brien Institute for Public Health and the Calgary Zone of Alberta Health Services. Their interdisciplinary team addresses health care needs through evidence-based practice, technology evaluation, and educational outreach, all to drive change in the health system to enhance patient safety and quality of care. They aim to understand how users (e.g., patients and care providers) behave in response to system constraints.
Setting up a well-equipped lab
In addition to medical simulation, other research areas also use simulation facilities to assess behavior under controlled settings. Human factors researchers use Viso and The Observer XT to integrate simulator data with video recordings. Noldus’ clients in these fields are wide ranging, from operators training on nuclear power plant simulators to assessing driving behavior in vehicle simulators (car and train). In this way, qualitative data can turn into quantitative results.
Interested in setting up a simulation lab for answering your research questions? Please visit our website to read more about the many different possibilities Noldus provides. There you will find descriptions of a large number of research, training, and simulation labs from all over the world, all recently built and in active use. With a photographic tour, you can see how we helped design spaces for our clients, what equipment they chose, and which software tools are used for data collection and analysis.
Truijens, S.E.M., Banga, F., Fransen, A., Pop, V., Runnard Heimel, van P. & Oei, G. (2016). The effect of multiprofessional simulation-based obstetric team training on patient-reported quality of care: a pilot study. Simulation in Healthcare 2015, 10, 210-216.