Remote Simulation Training: Scaling Access To Meet Clinical Requirements

Even in a world where more workplaces are allowing for remote work, higher education has remained mostly an on-campus effort. 

State-of-the-art simulation labs, combining use of manikins, computed-based simulation and task trainers bring a plethora of tools under one roof. That’s especially important as simulation can now account for up to 50% of clinical hours required for graduation, at least in the U.S. and growing in other parts of the world. 

GIGXR recently demonstrated remote capabilities for instructor-led simulation training, scaling access of holographic standardized patients to help students meet clinical training requirements. 

The Association for Simulated Practice in Healthcare (ASPiH) virtual conference featured programming centered on a wide variety of issues related to the simulation industry. The topic for 2020 was “Simulated Practice in Healthcare – the Next Decade.” Sessions looked at best practices for the next 10 years, such as using simulation to develop empathy, involving patients and service users in simulation education in healthcare and interprofessional work, as well as COVID-19 and simulation. 

Pandemic-led campus closures are upping the pressure to find solutions that cater to remote learning. But the need to scale access to simulation training goes well beyond COVID-19. Traditional simulation methods tend to be costly: standardized patient programs can incur a six- or seven-figure cost ; high-end manikins can run upwards of $20,000 each while the costs of operating simulation labs are high. They also share another key disadvantage: scalability. If a program wants to grow, they have to boost their investment, and that can be a high incremental cost.

One of the biggest drawbacks of almost any simulation method today—even some augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) or mixed reality (MR) offerings—is that they require students to be on campus.   For most simulation techniques, such as standardized patients, manikins, task trainers and so on, there is no way to replicate instruction if students need to be remote. Getting an actor to physically be present in class is not possible. That’s putting clinical hours needed for graduation in jeopardy. 

The need for effective and cost efficient remote simulation capacity is ongoing. For example, remote learning enables a professor to send class content to students at other campuses simultaneously. That eases the financial burden on already-stretched departmental budgets and helps democratize the learning experience between main and satellite campuses.

Garry Putland, VP of Global Sales at GIGXR, offered insights into remote and socially distanced simulation learning during the sessions “Training With Standardized Patients in The Age of COVID: Empowering Remote And Socially Distanced Teaching Environments through Holographic Technology” at the ASPiH virtual conference.

Dane Axelgard, VP of sales North America for GIGXR, elaborated on the capacities of GIGXR’s latest launches, HoloPatient Remote and GIG Mobile, during a live virtual demonstration with Healthy Simulation.

As both Putland and Axelgard pointed out, GIGXR’s MR app Holopatient Remote solves both of those challenges. It allows instructors wearing a Microsoft HoloLens 2 headset to create and share customizable scenarios featuring a highly realistic holographic standardized patient. Students can join the session on a smartphone or tablet, allowing them to participate from home, communicating via VOIP and having those deep conversations around the clinical reasoning model. Students can continue to develop and acquire clinical language, observation and assessment skills. 

GIGXR allows multiple users to observe and interact with the same holographic patient, even if they are remote. The instructor can replicate a wide variety of pathologies, from COVID-19 to burns. The app also allows for interactive labels, pathology editing, learning checks and branching,  customized session planning and shared experience between users. 

The Immersive Learning System, which supports HoloPatient Remote, uses a cloud-based infrastructure to empower instructors to start lessons faster, plan content ahead of time and use their own pedagogical approach. For students, one-tap QR code login from any Android or iOS smartphone or tablet eliminates endless struggles with passwords and complicated codes. 

Support for interactive labeling and the ability to save changes made during the session bring the learning experience much closer to “live.” As Axelgard demonstrated, students can place the hologram anywhere in their own rooms with a simple tap. The phones and tablets allow them to walk around the hologram just as they could if they were wearing a headset.