February 23, 2015

Health Sciences manikins going mobile

If you see human-like beings laying around campus, breathing heavily, sweating, and generally looking unwell, don’t worry, it’s not an episode of the Walking Dead. The Simulation Health Centre in the Faculty of Health Sciences has purchased new manikins and, unlike the old ones, students and instructors will soon be able to move this newest generation of ‘patients’ around campus.

“Sharon Dersch, an instructor in the Nursing Programs, approached us about a year ago to assist the Faculty with the RFP and vendor selection to replace two of their training manikins,” says Daryle Niedermayer, Application Design and Planning Manager in IT Services. “They were aware of the technology challenges and needed to select a product that would work within the University’s environment. Any sort of complex equipment like this is far from plug-and-play, and the costs warrant intense collaboration with all stakeholders. Between our Telecom and Applications teams, we were able to help them choose the best option for their needs.”Manikin1

Dersch says the older manikins had limitations with some of their technologies. “We had experienced problems with wireless connections between the manikins and A/V systems within the University environment that could not be resolved. The problems required the manikins to be hardwired which limited the amount of information that could be transmitted through the A/V system. We did not want to encounter similar problems with the new equipment.”

The mobility characteristic of the two manikins represents only one of many complex requirements for the new medical training tools for students. The undertaking required assurance the manikins and audio-visual equipment would work seamlessly within the University’s network and could be supported by IT Services in the future.

“The amount of information about the patient’s, or manikin’s, condition was extremely limited in that it could not be transmitted between the manikin and visual displays without wireless connections,” says Dersch. “With the new equipment, students and instructors observing the simulation remotely will be able to see the ‘patient’s’ heart monitor, blood pressure and other vital signs, as well as the names and dosages of medications that are given.”

Niedermayer adds that the new manikins’ ability to use the University’s wireless network means that it will be much easier for instructors to wander the room with an iPad, for example, and test their students’ skills with simulated symptoms, and to monitor their progress.

Working together, the Health Sciences and IT Services teams were able to select a vendor that met the requirements. “By reaching out to us early in their investigation, we were able to ask the right questions and help Health Sciences choose the right vendor. Three different companies responded to the RFP but only one, Laerdal Medical Canada, Ltd., addressed the networking issues involved with a product like this,” Niedermayer says.

Dersch concurs. “Daryle and the IT team met with us on numerous occasions over the last year to help with all stages of the purchase, from wording the technical requirements on the RFP, to helping with the final selection of products. During the selection process IT Services managed all the technical correspondence, and also met with vendor technicians to test equipment. Daryle and his team were invaluable in helping to ensure the manikins have the necessary functions and functionality–not something that the SHC team could have done alone. Another huge advantage to including IT Services in the selection process is their knowledge of the selected product, enabling them to more easily provide support in the future.”

The new manikins are expected early this summer.