Simulation is commonly used in the education and training of health care professionals, but more recently it’s entering the quality improvement world.
“Instead of just thinking about training individuals and teams, people are starting to use simulation to look at the physical layout of resuscitation bays, to map work flows of a patient journey through hospitals, to identify latent safety threats,” said Victoria Brazil, MD, MBA, lead author of a study on the subject in BMJ Quality & Safety. “These are great things to do, but many of the people doing it didn’t have quality improvement skills or knowledge – that’s why we wrote this article.”
Dr. Brazil, a specialist in health care simulation at Gold Coast (Australia) Hospital and Health Service, explained that, “in terms of the top takeaways, for quality improvement teams – and I’m including everyday clinicians in this: Think about simulation as one of the tools that can be utilized when looking at the questions of how we make our performance better, whether that’s a team performance, environmental, investigational impacts, or one of my key interests, whether that’s about exploring and shaping culture in hospitals, which we’ve done a lot of work on using simulation.”
Quality improvement has become a very specialized field, she added, so hospitalists may think it’s outside their purview. “As clinicians, we don’t think about ourselves as being engaged in quality improvement. I think that’s a shame, because many of the things that we can do bit by bit to make our patient outcomes better, we need to be thinking about finding better ways to do those things. I suggest simulation is one way, and that doesn’t need to be a massive simulation center. It can be simulating the kind of things that are important to you, your teams, and your patients and using those to both explore improved performance.”
Dr. Brazil said that Gold Coast Hospital has used simulation as a way of getting people from different departments and different professions together to shape culture through understanding shared knowledge and goals around patient journeys.
“That’s been pretty successful for us, and I think it’s really important that quality improvement has that understanding of context and culture as well as the idea of having specific interventions – maybe like a simulation – to try and improve an outcome,” she said.
1. Brazil V et al.. Connecting simulation and quality improvement: How can healthcare simulation really improve patient care? BMJ Qual Saf. 2019 Jul 18..