The given paper is a change proposal that focuses on the problems of training of specialists in the area of surgical medicine. The main argument of the proposal is that the introduction of a new progressive technology – specifically, VR simulation module – into the healthcare setting should positively impact the surgeon’s skills development and push their professional qualification to the new level, which would contribute to better outcomes in patient safety, respectively. The problem is clearly stated and rationalized to be a relevant issue in the healthcare industry. Afterwards, benefits of implementing the change are discussed with a focus on improvement of patient safety. Ways of measuring the impact of the change are reviewed. Methods of communicating and implementing the change are generally described as well. The proposal will also emphasize on human factors, risks, and resistance aspect that may compromise implementation of the change. Concluding remarks on why this technology-related change is urgent and substantial for patient safety are provided.
Keywords: technology, simulation module, change implementation, patient safety
Change Proposal: A New Technology of VR Simulation Training
The integration of a new technology in the work of a medical facility is directly associated with changing the ways of interaction between healthcare providers and patients. It reflects on performance and delivery of care, communication between key stakeholders, task completion, information processing, and critical decision-making. The introduction of progressive technologies can definitely provide healthcare agencies with indisputable benefits in the quality of care. In the meantime, a change project can pose certain challenges and difficulties, especially, when a change is not managed and integrated appropriately and professionally. Nevertheless, most options of having a change in the healthcare industry are realizable, especially, when the option’s benefits outweigh the risks. For this reason, it is proposed to integrate a VR training program as a new and progressive technology to change the process of skills development for modern surgeons and improve patient safety.
The improved use of technology is a strong precondition for upgrading the current healthcare system in general, which, in turn, implies the enhancement of care delivery and personalized safety of patients. Surgical operations and other invasive interventions are the most complex healthcare procedures that require top qualification, high-level skills and competency from medical specialists. On the other hand, the shortage of highly qualified surgeons, especially, in the field of pediatrics, is not only a domestic but rather a global issue. The problem is about traditional and classic models of training that result in a slower transfer of skills. In this sense, qualification improvement among professional surgeons is quite unhurried and lingering today.
In addition, the lack of highly qualified surgeons reflects on how healthcare services are delivered. In other words, the shortage of necessary competencies among surgeons impacts a personal health and safety of patients. Medical errors, often referring to insufficient qualification, are the third top cause of death among patients in the USA, with making no exception to the field of surgery (James, 2013). Definitely, without efficient and progressive training of the existing surgical workforce, there is a high risk of intensification of the problem of patients’ low safety. Formally, the introduction of robotic surgeons is still a controversy, which leads to skill improvement among human manpower. In this sense, VR simulation module becomes a reasonable and affordable solution to the issues of staff qualification and patient safety.
The Change and Its Benefits for Providers and Patients
In order to improve the situation with patient safety in terms of surgical intervention, responsible and highly skillful specialists have to be prepared and trained by both traditional and new approaches. Indeed, a change proposed in this paper is not about a full removal or substitution of traditional methods but rather about extension and supplementation of existing training tools aimed at quality and time-saving outcomes. VR simulation module is a relatively raw technology with undisclosed and hidden potential; yet, even the current technological level of VR has already demonstrated promising and perspective results, specifically in the area of human training (Brown & Paige, 2015). In other words, a change should be properly integrated and operated into the clinical environment to be accepted as a necessary step towards safer health conditions of patients.
As it was mentioned above, there is a direct practical connection between high qualification of surgeons and safety of patients. The more experienced and skillful surgeon is, the more positive and successful outcome of the surgical intervention is, and worst consequences of operations are avoided. VR simulation module represents technological equipment – including VR headset as well as specialized joysticks and controls – that allows the users to operate in a virtual environment programmed in a way to fit the real-life setting as naturally as possible (Brown & Paige, 2015). Technically, by utilizing VR simulation module, surgeons are provided with an opportunity to improve their professional skills in terms of close-to-reality conditions, while VR software supports a high level of details and an accuracy of images.
Eventually, VR simulation practices essentially accelerate the development of surgeon’s skills, making future operations and interventions safer for patients. A high transferability of skills via VR simulation is achieved by the nature and impact of VR technology itself, as it provides a strong effect of the immersive involvement (Brown & Paige, 2015). As compared to the classic live training environment, VR simulation is more spatial, extensional, and engaging for ambitious surgeons who are encouraged to reinforce, refine, and advance their existing practical skills. Taking operations on real patients in terms of training is quite a risky and unsafe experience that may traumatize a patient and build psychological barriers in surgeon’s mind, hindering his professional progress. The reduction of real-life risks because of the full involvement in the simulated surgical setting is a key benefit of VR module that leads to a safer environment and optimistic outcomes for patients.
Change’s Impact Measurement
Measuring the impact of the change is vital for the purpose to learn if the process is moving in the right way. In case of integrating VR simulation module, it is rational to include outcome measures that show reliable and valid output on using the new technology. Particularly, it may involve measurements at three levels: patient, healthcare provider/surgeon, and organization. At the level of a patient, the number of failed operations before and after technology usage will be analyzed and contrasted to learn the current efficiency. At the level of a surgeon, the quality of surgical interventions, performance, and the number of operations will be assessed. Finally, at the level of an organization, readmission rates and general quality of care delivery are to be evaluated.
Communicating and Implementing the Change
Certain ways of communicating and implementing the change should help to accept the innovation in the organization in a faster and more painless way. Creating a readiness to the change is a fundamental step that includes efficient leadership strategies and a shared vision (Gesme & Wiseman, 2010). All participants have a right to address their ideas regarding the change, as the final point is to achieve consensus and define strategic reasons of implementing VR module. In order to avoid complacency issue, a leader must rely on the organizational culture to transmit benefits of the change and innovation (quality performance and patient safety) along with outlining possible risks to better prepare the staff for challenges. Some demonstration exercises will also be helpful in promoting change. Thus, surgeons will learn how the usage of VR tools can practically improve their motor skills, stability of performance, accuracy of motions, self-autonomy, and general self-management. This training equipment, including the VR module, simulation software, and the operational model, will help practitioners to feel exactly how a technology changes their qualification and the perception of how effectively manage real-life operations. Evidently, group meetings, team feedback, and demonstrations are significant methods to communicate and implement the change and get everybody involved.
Human Factors and Resistance Aspect
Undoubtedly, a resistance to the proposed change is expected. A human factor is a leading cause on why technological change can be hampered. Thus, VR technology may repeal those surgeons who are comfortable with the current traditional live training. The fear of change is also anticipated, as new surgeons might find VR too complicated for the regular usage. Importantly, some practitioners might show apathy, resulting in complacency issue (Gesme & Wiseman, 2010). An expanded use of informatics and complex technology is also a factor of resistance, because some surgeons may be afraid of the novel IT solution due to the lack of knowledge and literacy. It is crucial to consider all these human factors while implementing the change to deal with an overall resistance and discomfort from the personnel.
In conclusion, a proposed change in the healthcare organization is a new technology of VR simulation training. The problem of shortage of qualified surgeons undermines the quality of service in healthcare facilities. The implementation of VR module should drastically improve skills, qualification, and performance of modern surgeons. In turn, these improvements will definitely reflect on the quality of care and, eventually, lead to safer life conditions for patients.
Brown, K. M., & Paige, J. T. (Eds.). (2015). Simulation in surgical training and practice, an issue of surgical clinics (1st ed.). New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Gesme, D., & Wiseman, M. (2010). How to implement change in practice. Journal of Oncology Practice, 6(5), 257-259.
James, J. T. (2013). A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care. Journal of Patient Safety, 9(3), 122-128.