Simulation testing for health care technology

How Simulation Can Help Test New Technology

Implementing new, innovative technologies and services within OSF HealthCare is a process. It’s our job within Performance Improvement to pilot these solutions in the care environment to not only see how they might fit into the care team’s everyday workflow but to ensure they work.

This typically requires a vetting process and the development of an outline to lay out our strategy for piloting. Many times, we pilot various solutions in a specific department within one facility. However, with access to the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, we believe simulation can be a valuable way to understand the technology and work through challenges prior to executing a solution in the real health care space.

We tried this out for the first time with a digital platform that provides real-time monitoring of hospital patients who are at-risk for falls. What we’ve learned is that using simulation is a great way to understand how new technology works. It gives our clinicians the chance to try it out in a safe environment. It’s also a way to discover whether a solution is worth continuing.

Testing at Jump

Patients at-risk for falling are in beds equipped with an alarm that goes off when they try to get out of bed without assistance. This alerts the care team to intervene.

We wanted to use simulation to test a new platform with the potential to warn clinicians before the bed alarm. The idea is to get members of the care team to the bedside sooner and prevent a fall. We engaged clinicians from the Family Care Center Unit at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center to help.

“We were 100% on board with giving our feedback and insights on this solution,” said Bridget Suarez, a manager of Nursing at OSF St. Joseph. “We saw this as an opportunity to impact patient falls across the Ministry and keep our patients safe.”

The technology consists of wall-mounted sensors that use artificial intelligence to learn when a person is attempting to get out of their hospital bed. The platform is then expected to notify members of the care team to drive earlier intervention. However, the solution had never been tested in an acute care center like a hospital.

To assess this capability, we set the equipment up within a Jump virtual patient care unit and immediately discovered challenges connecting the technology to our wireless network. We were able to find a solution to that problem before bringing in clinicians to experience the platform.

From there, the pilot team played the role of patients and clinicians. We conducted various simulation activities where we had patients move around and try to get out of bed. This gave us the opportunity to understand the sensitivity of the platform and work with the developers of the technology to fine-tune their algorithm. We then invited clinicians from OSF St. Joseph to test the platform for themselves.

“We got to run through a variety of simulations to get an idea of how the system operated,” said John Phifer, director of Inpatient Nursing Services at OSF St. Joseph. “It was interesting to see the direct care team work with the platform for the first time. It gave us a sense of the technology’s potential to make a difference.”

The Benefit of Simulation

Following multiple tests in the simulation space, we learned how to place sensors in the right places to maximize their potential. We were able to minimize some of the technology challenges ahead of the pilot in the live environment, and we gained valuable feedback from our Mission Partners on the front lines of care.

“I haven’t been part of a pilot before. It was great to see everyone come together for the betterment of the patient, enhance their experience and keep them safe,” said Suarez. “We learned a lot and it was really cool to be part of this process.”

The vendor of the technology also benefited from our pilot at Jump. They took what they learned from our simulation unit and built their own simulated patient room to continue enhancing their technology. Because of feedback provided by the front line Mission Partners, they left with the knowledge of how to further improve their platform and help it work more effectively within an acute care environment.

For OSF, knowing we had a role in helping shape that technology for the future is pretty exciting.

Last Updated: February 1, 2023

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About Author: Devon Kelly

Devon Kelly has been with OSF HealthCare Ministry Performance Improvement since 2018. She currently serves as a Manager and has oversight of the OSF Innovation Pilots Program. The Pilots Program supports OSF Innovation partnerships with early-stage companies, as well as established vendors and provides a unique opportunity to explore the potential of new technologies and services that can uncover new and alternative approaches to solving existing problems in health care.

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Categories: General, Industry Perspectives, Innovation