COVID-19 simulation series delivers virtual reality experience
A Royal College Fellow is directing a series of virtual reality simulation videos on the safest methods for delivering emergency room treatment during the COVID-19 crisis.
Glenn Posner, MDCM, FRCSC, and a team of physicians from the University of Ottawa are working with physicians at the University of Colorado to write and produce “in-situ” simulation training videos, five of which are already available online. The subjects cover safe practices for emergency room procedures, such as intubations and emergency tracheotomies, at a time when physicians working in the ER must assume that any patient could have COVID-19.
“We realized early on that COVID-19 patients would typically present in the ER, so that’s where we focused the simulations,” said Dr. Posner, who is medical director of the Simulation Patient Safety Program at The Ottawa Hospital, medical director of the University of Ottawa Skills & Simulation Centre and a simulation educator for the Royal College.
A unique challenge for simulation learning
When Dr. Posner and his team began to plan the training in February, they realized they faced a unique dissemination challenge. To deliver the “in-situ” simulations that Dr. Posner typically designs, learners must be in the same room, running through potential scenarios and learning from them. This flouts the practise of social distancing — impossible to enforce in a clinical environment, but important for protecting the health of learners.
“We’re in this unique environment where we have to deliver in-situ training without bringing people together physically,” said Dr. Posner. In the search for a solution, he was introduced to Dr. Janet Corral, who directs the University of Colorado’s Digital Education innovation lab.
3D virtual learning
The clear solution was to shoot virtual-reality (VR) simulation videos, where the learner can experience an interactive 3D experience from the safety of their computer screen.
Since early March, Dr. Posner and his team have been shooting, producing and posting VR videos using Wonda VR SPACES. The Wonda platform enables users to share immersive learning content using 2D, 360-degree and 3D media.
“Learners can click on the video to view the entire room and its occupants, whether doors are opening or closing, and everything else going on in the environment. Learners can also use virtual reality goggles to immerse themselves in the simulation.”
Dr. Posner explained that the usual rules of simulation curriculum design do not necessarily apply to the COVID-19 series. “Simulation training is usually about crisis resource management and communication,” he said. “But in the COVID-19 environment, it’s more about creating standard operating procedures for the ways in which health care providers must protect themselves and their patients.”
The COVID-19 simulation series will soon be hosted on The Ottawa Hospital Education Department’s web page. In the meantime, they can be accessed through the program’s Twitter account: @SPSP_TOH.