A ‘Black Box’ For The Hospital

Fri, 05/21/2010 - 8:20am
Historically, foreign medical students that wanted to practice in the United States, they had to go to a center to test their interviewing and diagnostic skills with standardized patients, actors extensively trained to be patients. 

Recently, Surgical Products spoke with Lucas Huang, co-founder of B-Line Medical about their simulation technology.

Surgical Products: How did you get your start in simulation?

Huang: Historically, foreign medical students that wanted to practice in the United States, they had to go to a center to test their interviewing and diagnostic skills with standardized patients, actors extensively trained to be patients.  There was a need to determine whether medical students coming from a different cultures, were able to interact with American patients.  There was also the assumption that if you graduated from a U.S. medical school that you had these skills.

In 2004, this was changed so that every medical student had to go through this testing. Everything needed to be captured on video to see how well all medical student performed.  There was a need for an easy to use solution that could help medical schools prepare its students, and that is where B-Line Medical got its start. 

B-Line Medical has since refined its technology and solutions to additionally encompass full body patient simulation and task training simulation. Our technology is used to capture how people are interacting with the simulator, electronic medical records, ultrasounds, and just about any type of medical device.  And the intent for that is when you are treating a patient, it’s about everything, the electronic medical records, medical monitoring devices, the drugs that they’re injecting, and the team’s communication so the challenge you have is trying to capture all of that information in high definition, make it easily accessible for follow-up and debriefing.  Ideally, you want to be able to go back, review and identify areas for improvement to prevent mistakes from happening.

Surgical Products: How does your technology function for surgical simulation and training?

Huang: Our technology works to make it easy to manage logistics of integrating video and audio. We found that it was as important to capture the audio in high fidelity as it is the video so that you are able to hear all aspects of communication. For example, if you are treating a critical patient, the number of individuals in a intense environment, think about how important communication is and capturing that audio. Further, the information that is captured can be accessed anywhere and can be reviewed on any authenticated user over any networked computer. We have a lot of simulation technology available in the industry, but it’s not on a common platform to access all the information and find a correlation and that is where B-Line Medical comes in.

Surgical Products: How about moving the ability to capture all information during the patient care process to the live space? Is that beginning to happen at all?

Huang: Hospitals began to take notice of this capability and a few have started using our technology in live-patient settings. This capability allows teams to work in challenging and high stress environments and then debrief together or remotely as part of a process of self improvement. Most facilities are hesitant from a legal standpoint because video of a mistake is a potential liability.

However, if you look at the airline industry, years ago when crashes were more frequent, the “black  box” that monitored everything on a flight was mandated as a way to diagnose mistakes, train for these mistakes, and avoid them in the future. The same sort of thing needs to happen in health care.

For a risk management person, having the ability to replay an adverse outcome event and be able to complete a checklist. Were all the proper steps followed? Did we do everything we could to save the patient? Is priceless.

You can’t fix something without knowing it’s broken.

Hospitals leveraging our technology are using it in live settings in multiple areas to monitor and identify areas for improvement.  They will cycle around different locations in the hospital. Then, they’ll come back and check back in after making recommendations to see if changes have been made.

Surgical Products: What do you see for the future?

Huang: Ideally, hospitals could develop processes to train staff prior to doing procedures. Hospitals can identify their weakness, asking ‘where are we failing’ and then build a curriculum around it to adapt best practices. Our technology allows us to identify where the problems are, help the facility train for those problems, and then verify that they have been addressed. We track that so it can be followed through. So essentially, a hospital can identify their problems, develop solutions, and institute training for that solution and then re-evaluate, constant process improvement  This ultimately is what needs to be done to dramatically improve patient safety.




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