Medical Simulations Applications
Healthcare professionals undergo extensive and continuous training to provide the most effective care possible. Medical professions can range from primary care physicians to combat medics, all of whom require hands-on training to learn and apply new skills.
Practicing procedures and emergent responses on live patients can be dangerous, so medical simulators are often used instead. Simulators create various realistic environments and scenarios for healthcare providers to train and test before entering the field.
Medical simulations have many applications, including in the military. Learn more about the history of medical simulators and where they’re headed in the future.
What Is Medical Simulation?
Medical simulation uses advanced technology to train healthcare professionals in realistic situations without the high risk associated with real patient care. Medical simulation is used in various areas of the medical field, teaching concepts such as CPR, anatomy, first aid and advanced medical procedures. Many types of medical simulations are also used to create different effects, teach skills or test the provider’s knowledge.
For example, manikins are commonly used to simulate real patients and injuries or conditions. In testing, the provider practices real-time decision-making as if they were in the field. With the simulation manikin or technology as the patient, providers have room for error, from which they can effectively learn.
History of Medical Simulation
Combat wound mortality rates were high around the time of World War II, as most wounded soldiers would die before reaching medical care. These occurrences established the need for increased and more effective training in life-saving procedures both in the hospital and battlefield, with more emphasis on field training. Medical simulation had been accepted as a valuable method for preparing medical personnel, so the United States military implemented healthcare simulation as a core training element.
The goal was to standardize and build soldiers’ and combat medics’ skills. Combat injuries were simulated so soldiers could practice lifesaver, buddy-aid and self-aid skills. Data from combat deaths in previous wars were used to determine common potentially preventable causes of death. Military healthcare simulation training was especially focused on preventing these types of combat deaths, as with the right medical knowledge, they could be survivable injuries.
Medical simulation facilities grew to offer hands-on training methods like live tissue models, task trainers and cadavers to allow medics to practice advanced skills like tracheotomies. Simulated patients were used for various training situations, including naval vessel mass casualties and air evacuations. Manikins simulated large injuries and training programs began to simulate war environments with loud noises and limited visibility so medics could provide medical care in realistic war settings.
Having made improvements in battlefield medical preparation, there was a shift to clinical simulations to better prepare nurses and doctors for providing care in military treatment facilities. Military medical and nursing schools were established with simulation centers to train medical students of all levels.
By 2015, medical simulation had become such a vital aspect of military training that the Department of Defense Medical Modeling and Simulation Office was created to ensure the Army, Navy and Air Force were developing and using cohesive simulation methods and standardized instructor training.
The Future of Medical Simulation Beyond the Battlefield
Medical simulators have been found to effectively complement patient care settings and are educationally effective for training combat medics. Medical simulation also has a strong future in healthcare education beyond the battlefield to train various types of providers in different disciplines. Until now, medical simulation has been used in a completely physical environment using high-fidelity manikins, mock warehouses and battlefield environments.
The future of medical simulations utilizes technological advancements and virtualization to further improve medical training on and off the battlefield. This concept of virtual medical simulation can be used to regionalize simulation centers at a much lower cost than a physical environment.
For example, you can virtualize most equipment and only carry essential equipment needed for the scenario. You can teach basic life support, advanced trauma life support, advanced cardiovascular life support or training. This application of medical simulation can be used to iron out workflows, amongst many other possibilities where you need a representative environment for workflow, business process reengineering, simulator testing and simulator training.
Simulator training continues to evolve as different technologies can be used for medical training. For example, mixed-reality medical simulation uses hyper-realistic physical simulations like audio, scent, strobe and haze to portray real settings. Mixed reality increases realism with controlled variables such as weather, dust, moisture and more to increase user competency and introduce less variability.
Specifically, MicroHealth medical simulation has show cased mixed reality using digital environmental renderings from an LED Wall. This rendering was built using Unreal Engine 5 gaming technology and featured Hollywood production-level sound design. Environmental and digital rendering enables the creation of any setting, like villages or terrain. Additionally, mixed-reality simulation is fully scalable at a cost-effective price because there’s no need for more real estate, as it’s all digital.
Here are a few other notable technologies being used in the future of medical simulation on and off the battlefield:
- Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR): VR and AR technologies are gaining popularity for being cost-effective and compact medical simulation training devices. VR headsets are beneficial because they can accurately and realistically simulate various settings and situations without a physical environment. Instructors can customize VR scenarios to teach certain skills or techniques.
- Remote interventions: Other advancements include the development of remote medical interventions. Whether at sea, on the front lines or in the hospital, remote tools allow knowledgeable surgeons and providers to direct procedures remotely. For example, if combat medics need to perform life-saving surgery, a remote surgeon can walk them through it to help ensure success.
- Robotic surgeons: Robotic medical systems can be used to perform minimally invasive medical procedures in the field. The operator can control the robot remotely. This technology is extremely beneficial when advanced medical resources and personnel aren’t available.
- Manikins: Manikins remain a critical training tool for the future of medical simulation training. Today’s manikins and simulation software are significantly more advanced and can realistically replicate more scenarios, especially when used with other simulation methods. For example, manikins today can move and actively bleed to make injuries seem more realistic. When used with VR or AR, medics can practice on the manikins while being immersed in an active environment.
Medical Simulation Training Solutions From MicroHealth
As a leading developer and supporter of advanced medical simulation solutions, MicroHealth can customize solutions for government agencies with simulator needs.
Our manikins can replicate injuries and ailments from burns to crush injuries. They can measure the depth of an incision and the dosage of medication administered intravenously, among many other capabilities. The physical environment simulations can include lighting, sound and scent effects to promote a highly realistic situation.
To learn more about our simulation solutions and healthcare IT services, contact our team of experts today.