There’s a great opening scene in Pixar’s Monsters Inc. where a monster cracks the door of a young child’s closet, quietly approaches the bed, and then just as he’s about to scare the kid from his peaceful slumber, the child wakes up screaming. The monster is taken by surprise, screams as well, and ends up accidentally injuring himself several times. Then the alarms sound, the camera pans out, and you see that it is not in fact a real child but a robotic simulation. The monster is in training on a sound stage, being observed by both instructors and his peers, and unfortunately, he has failed to pass this part of the real life simulation.
Of course this is a computer animated movie, set in a parallel universe, but the reality of this type of simulation in our world is not far from the truth, especially in the world of healthcare.
Medical simulation is an extremely valuable tool used today to train new medical professionals, and AV technology is essential in maximizing these simulation environments. You will find simulation labs everywhere from vocational trade schools to major universities to world class hospitals. The technology is not only experienced and utilized by the student, but as in the animated example above, also by instructors and the students’ peers.
Let’s take a brief journey through the technology that makes these simulation labs so valuable from the three perspectives of the student, the instructor, and the student’s peers.
A critical component of every medical simulation is the patient. Fortunately, students don’t get to practice on actual people having major medical emergencies, so instead a technologically advanced surrogate is used. The high definition mannequins or advanced patient simulator is the first major component of a modern simulation lab. These mannequins blink, breathe, and have heart beats and blood pressure. They can exhibit symptoms of physical, neurological and psychological illness and even respond to drug administration. When coupled with an array of medical equipment like EKGs and blood oxygen meters, students can start to assess symptoms. PCs or touch screens that give the students access to the simulated patients sensitive medical history and Electronic Health Records, EHRs, can also be used in tandem. A virtualized audio system may also be integrated so the student can alert the appropriate staff of the patient’s condition through the use of the facilities code system and a public address system as well. This combination of a patient simulator, sensors, medical equipment, displays, microphones, and speakers all help to realistically recreate the environment in which the student will be working in the future.
If there is one thing that is certain about patients, it’s that they are all different. A simulator is only as good as it is programmed to be, and going through a few pre-canned scenarios may be helpful to some degree, but in the real world, things don’t always go as planned. It is for this reason, technology also allows the instructor to control these simulated environments. Typically there is a control area outside of the simulated patient room, where the instructor will use a control system to initiate a condition in the patient simulator. This means that a touch screen of some kind will most likely be used. A computer or processor is needed to send data to the patient simulator. The instructor can create unique combinations of symptoms and patient responses to them, keeping the student in the mode of active thinking, an important skill set to be had by any medical professional.
A camera system can also be employed to give the instructor a more detailed look at the way the student handles the initiated emergency and/or condition. There may also be a two way communication system between the control area and the simulated patient room so that the instructor can listen and even coach the student on next steps.
The Student’s Peers
Finally, technology can allow observers not directly involved in the simulation to witness it first-hand without having to be hands on. Many simulation labs have an observation window where other students can sit and observe the simulation and the involved student’s response to the instructor triggered events. There are also displays that may show these students duplicate vital data available on the machines in the room. Those same screen may relay what type of event the instructor has triggered, so they can observe what would be the typical response of a professional given those parameters.
The cameras in the simulation room may also be leveraged with some type of codec to encode the video for live streaming over the internet or for live video teleconferencing, to make the simulation available in other rooms or other campuses live and simultaneously. These same cameras also facilitate recording for later distribution, in classroom teaching, or even a review of the active student’s role in the simulation and how they performed.
As you can see, technology has allowed simulation to reach new heights in medical schools and facilities across the US and the world. A strong working knowledge of Audio Video technology has become increasingly valuable in designing, installing, and maintaining these systems as well.
Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org