Intermountain Healthcare is operating a simulation technology center that is training clinicians from around the United States and other countries, using simulated patient care scenarios designed to increase patient safety and improve clinical outcomes.

“We have clinicians come in and practice cases as teams that are not commonly seen in the hospital, preparing them for situations that could arise,” says Phillip Wortham, simulation program manager for operations and technology at Intermountain, who oversees simulation at the health system’s 22 hospitals. “We simulate just about anything you can imagine.”

The Utah-based health system has used simulation for more than a decade and runs 11 training spaces that replicate real-world experiences. However, Intermountain has ramped up its capabilities in recent years for training medical professionals for complex clinical situations in a low-risk simulated learning environment.

The largest facility—located at LDS Hospital in the heart of Salt Lake City—opened nearly three years ago, encompasses 10,000 square feet, and provides training every year to thousands of hospital, homecare and clinical professionals. Accredited through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, Intermountain’s center at LDS includes a fully operational operating room, intensive care unit room, acute care rooms, home health apartment, as well as a simulated labor delivery room.

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The simulation center leverages myriad clinical systems as part of the training, such as an electronic health record, pumps, ventilators and telemedicine. In addition, robotic manikins—including one designed to deliver a baby—are used to simulate specific health conditions and to enable clinicians to provide their “patients” with different treatments.

“The manikins are basically robots that function like a patient normally would,” observes Wortham. “Some of the manikins we have are high fidelity, which means they have pulses, can breathe, have heart sounds, lung sounds, bowel sounds—they can talk, bleed, and other fluids can be run through them. This is all done remotely from the center’s control room.”

According to Wortham, the center even simulates odors in order to make the training scenarios as realistic as possible.

He notes that with some complex surgical training cases, the center utilizes 3D printing of scanned images of patient anatomy to help surgeons practice on these visualizations prior to doing the actual procedure.

“The home health apartment in the center is also pretty cool because we’re utilizing it to train patients,” adds Wortham. “We have actual patients with heart failure who come in and learn how to check their blood pressure, weigh themselves, track what they’re eating, and manage their conditions. With that simulation alone, we’re seeing great outcomes in the sense of readmission rates for heart failure patients.”

Each quarter, Intermountain offers a three-day simulation facilitator course to teach clinicians how to implement simulation training with their respective teams. The latest class included attendees from Ecuador. This year’s course included a simulation entirely in Spanish so the Ecuadorian trainees could get simulation experience in their native language.

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