Adopting New Technology in Healthcare Education: Tallahassee Community College’s Simulation Center Implements Electronic Health Records Enhancing Simulations

Adopting New Technology in Healthcare Education: Tallahassee Community College’s Simulation Center Implements Electronic Health Records Enhancing Simulations

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Article Written by: Carla I. Dormeus, M.S., EMT
Simulation Program Manager Healthcare Professions Division
Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education
Tallahassee Community College

Developing and expanding usage in a Simulation Center is not an easy task. In the last 6 years as the Simulation Program Manager at Tallahassee Community College (TCC), I have seen the tremendous growth in our program and the challenges those changes created.

Our beginnings date back to the 1990’s when TCC converted two classrooms into simulation rooms with a separate control room.   The human patient simulators were used by various healthcare programs which created a need for more simulators and space. In 2011, the Healthcare Programs moved to the newly built Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education located 6 miles from campus, in the heart of the Tallahassee medical community. TCC’s Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education features more than 85,000 square feet of learning space devoted to diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical services, nursing, radiologic technology, respiratory care, pharmacy technology, surgical technology and allied health. TCC’s Simulation Center is located on the second (main) floor of Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education (GCHE). It is a 5,000 square foot facility used for training future and current healthcare professionals.

The Center has a total of six simulation rooms, two control rooms, one skills lab, three HeartCode rooms and two debriefing rooms. The simulation suites are designed as hospital rooms and provide real-world simulated experiences for the students in the Nursing, Emergency Medical Services, Respiratory Care, Radiologic Technology, and Dental programs. A variety of simulators are available to students; TCC currently has 14 adult, three pediatric, two infants, one newborn and one maternal simulator. These simulators allow staff to present different scenarios to students with the purpose of improving patient safety. In conjunction with faculty, the Simulation Center staff develops simulations that incorporate the use of team work, communication and psychomotor skills. Each simulator is unique and presents different features that can be used when training our students on specific skills. Besides the patient simulators, TCC’s Simulation Center also has four Virtual IV trainers and four complete HeartCode systems that allow students to obtain BLS and ACLS certification for Healthcare providers.

While there are many vendors that offer attractive systems with excellent features, it can be hard at first to choose the ones that will be a best fit to your programs. When TCC’s Health Care Programs moved to the new facility, we were faced with the great opportunity to upgrade our outdated technology to new state of the art technology. It was a great opportunity but challenging as well. New technology could definitely help our programs, but it could also hinder them if the wrong choices were made.

We often face the challenge of choosing the right vendor that will provide the best product to satisfy our needs and help with the usage and expansion of our program. Simulation has multiple components that need to be addressed: human patient simulators, task trainers, simulation staff, AV equipment, electronic health records (EHR), scheduling and supplies inventory among others. Input on technological decisions has to be a collaborative effort between faculty, staff and administration. The availability and quality of the educational technology used to train healthcare professionals requires a coordinated effort between faculty and staff to make sure the flow of the simulation scenarios is conducive to learning.

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emr training nursingFour years after the grand opening of our simulation center we had top of the line human patient simulators and audio visual system, but we were still missing a big component: an electronic health record system (EHR). The use of EHR is becoming the norm in U.S. healthcare and the same is true for the Tallahassee medical community. It is important to faculty at TCC to provide health students with the experiences which are best practice and so more pressure was being exerted to find a solution.

I had spent over two years reviewing EHR systems that were available for education and specifically for simulation. The features we were looking for where very different than the ones we would need in a real clinical environment. The major challenges we needed to overcome where finding software with the feel of a real EHR but would allow the flexibility to work in “simulated time”. We also wanted to find a system that was user friendly so that faculty and students could be easily trained. We believe that learning a specific software should not take all the time allocated for a simulation exercise; this would frustrate student, faculty, and would defeat the original purpose of a simulation exercise.

In July, 2014, MedAffinity installed its electronic health records software, MedAffinity EHR, on computer workstations in simulation rooms at TCC’s GCHE. The first two programs that used MedAffinity EHR during simulations were Nursing and Respiratory care. Because these two programs most readily embraced simulation and wanted to see how this new technology was going to be welcomed by faculty, students and simulation staff. The response we received from faculty and staff was overwhelmingly positive. It took 15 minutes to train them on the basic navigation of the system. Faculty were able to input new “Physician Orders” during the simulations that would automatically populate in the patient’s charts for students to access. It gave us so much flexibility to be able to make changes “on the fly” as happens in the hospital setting.

Since the initial implementation, we have been adding new scenarios to the database. This has allowed us to keep all the scenarios we need during the semester readily available to be used at any given time, therefore minimizing the amount of time simulation staff need to spend looking through charts and trying to find the correct scenario. The feedback we have received from the students has been very positive as well. Students liked how user friendly the software is and also they enjoyed being able to experience a real EHR that has been tailored for education. Students no longer carry bits of paper around with orders written on them and so their experience is even more realistic. We believe that the experience the students receive at TCC’s simulation Center should be similar to the real world they will encounter as soon as they graduate and join the workforce.

We are currently close to start our third semester using MedAffinity’s EHR. The original plan was to implement the nursing program’s piece over 4 semesters, but they will complete implementation in three semesters. The features this EHR has that we have found to be most valuable for its usage in education and specifically in simulation are:

  1. The EHR interface is organized to allow the entire patient’s information to be accessible to the students on a single screen. There is no need to go over tabs and different windows to be able to find the information needed.
  2. The system is flexible and allows the creation of templates tailored to your programs or institution. Templates can be created in minutes and can be saved for future use. The system also allows importing PDF files and saving them as templates.
  3. Entering notes in the system is as easy as typing a word document.
  4. The system allows resetting patient charts at the end of simulation exercises. After the simulation exercise ends, simulation staff can easily reset the patient’s chart to the original state.
  5. The system generates a patient arm band that can be scanned for patient verification purposes.
  6. The medication administration record (MAR) is integrated with a scanner system so that students can administer medications and confirm patient identity.

Implementing MedAffinity’s EHR in our simulation center has been one of the smoothest adoptions we have undergone in our center. MedAffinity has enhanced the student’s experience by providing them with another tool to make simulated patient care more realistic and a better learning tool. It has also given the simulation staff and faculty the prefect flexible tool to teach students, digitally manage the simulation’s library and minimize prep time.

Learn more and at TCC’s Simulation Center & the MedAffinity’s Website

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MedAffinity Electronic Health Records and Education: Keeping the Focus on Learning Healthcare

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MedAffinity Electronic Health Records and Education: Keeping the Focus on Learning Healthcare

Article Contributed by Thomas J. Doyle, MSN, RN

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) that works in education, specifically in simulation, has long been a dream of mine. In my nearly ten year quest for a simulated EHR when I was the Chief Learning Officer for Medical Education Technologies, Inc. (METI), now known as CAE Healthcare, I was not successful. Numerous issues with the various solutions out there surfaced. The “real” EHR systems used in the hospital could not deal with the concept of “simulation time.” Those systems documented everything in “real time.” Thus when trying to simulate a patient care episode spanning several hours in a much shorter time period was not possible to document using a “real” EHR. Other systems touted as being specifically designed for use in simulated environments were either too simplistic or extremely complex. Additionally, many solutions were too costly which is an ongoing concern in academia. Finally, and what I consider to be the biggest hindrance to these solutions, is that they contained no patient cases and faculty would have to manually enter data. As a former Professor of Nursing I knew this was not going to happen.

In November of 2014 at the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) conference in Saint Louis, MO, I found what I believe to be the solution: MedAffinity’s EHR for Education! MedAffinity EHR for Education is designed to make the documentation process feel as natural as possible, with an interface that looks, acts, and feels like a real document. Because MedAffinity’s document-style interface presents all of the information on a single screen, students can focus on learning patient care within a certifi­ed EHR instead of spending time navigating through a multi-screen, complicated system. Designed for providers resistant to the one-size-fi­ts-all mentality of most EHRs, MedAffinity easily adapts to new curriculum needs without delays, costly upgrades, or additional custom configuration associated with other common alternatives. I find the user interface (UI) user friendly and one can quickly learn how to navigate through the software.

Capabilities of the MedAffinity EHR for Education include the following:

  • Documentation: Your documentation, their system. One can configure MedAffinity to meet the needs of the faculty by placing their existing document-style materials right into their system. MedAffinity adapts to new curriculum content, ideas, and standards, which means our EHR does not dictate the way your faculty teach.
  • Summarize Simulation Information: The MedAffinity Summary allows students to dive right into learning by making it easy to view the information they need to see. Students do not need to waste time searching for a piece of information—instead they simply glance over the patient’s summary boxes, or roll their mouse over documents in the chart to immediately view any particular item in its entirety.
  • Search and Retrieve: MedAffinity features robust documentation retrieval and search functions, which allow faculty to quickly review documentation authored by students. But MedAffinity’s administrative overview functionality does not end there—faculty may search for documents authored within a particular date range in a particular course, authored by a particular student, and containing particular criteria.

I also found MedAffinity’s EHR to be rich in features. All of these were on “my wish list” when searching for a solution to be used in simulation. Features include but are not limited to:

  • “Save As:” Create or modify templates in minutes, without writing a single line of code. Create templates containing both medical data like vitals or management codes, as well as non-medical information: guidelines on how to complete certain tasks, images and illustrations, and even notes from faculty to reinforce classroom instruction. Because an educational EHR should not dictate the way your faculty teach.
  • Template Creation: Import PDF: Create fully formatted templates straight from PDFs. This system allows you to place pre-existing formatted documentation into your educational EHR and have it seamlessly appear in template categories alongside interactive templates. MedAffinity makes it easy to select your PDF and save it as a template in just a few simple steps. With many healthcare programs having purchased simulated clinical experience content or created their own, the educational EHR should make it easy to display and distribute this educational content.
  • Chart Summary Note Preview: Move the mouse over any document in a patient chart to see an instantaneous, complete preview of that full note document. Students will begin using MedAffinity EHR to view simulation materials with close to zero initial training. This is important because an educational EHR should not get in the way of students learning how to care for people.
  • Simulation Chart Reset: After a simulation session is completed, simulation administrators can quickly and easily reset the simulation patient chart back to its original state. This is a huge market-changing feature because your on-staff simulation administrators and technical support should not waste time manually deleting data after each session.

Tallahassee Community College (Florida) is MedAffinity’s launch customer. I had the pleasure of speaking with Carla I. Dormeus, MS, EMT who is the Simulation Program Manager in the Healthcare Professions Division about their experience. She had the following to say, “It has been redesigned specifically for simulation which makes running simulation experiences much easier and specifically they sought input from people doing simulation. It has saved us a lot of time when building our simulations as we can create our own library of content that can be used over and over again.” She agreed with me that having experience with electronic health records would benefit students as they look for jobs after graduation. “That’s what they are going to encounter when they go to any hospital or doctor’s office. Every place healthcare is delivered is going to go to electronic documentation. The more we expose them to what they will encounter in the real world, the better.” I could not agree more with her statement!

Learn more at

Thomas J. Doyle is President & CEO of SimOne Healthcare Consultants, LLC, a company focused on assisting its customers with the use of various educational technology solutions. He has 35 years of experience in healthcare, 18 of those being involved in high fidelity patient simulation. Visit the company’s website at

SimEMR From Pocket Nurse Interview from IMSH 2014

simulated electronic medical record, a division of Pocket Nurse, was on hand at IMSH 2014 to showcase their online simulated electronic medical record learning tool. I spoke with Beth Telesz RN, MSN about the product, including learning opportunities, utilization and fee structure. The product is very comprehensive and will defiantly add a great deal of learning potential to  your healthcare simulation program! SimEMR can be used on any web enabled device including laptops, ipads or other handheld devices.



SimEMR Benefits:

  • Web based
  • Easy to navigate
  • No software to install
  • Access to updates automatically
  • Accessible from mobile services
  • Economical yearly fee
  • No set up fees

SimEMR Features:

  • Realistic hospital charting from
  • Admission to Discharge
  • Ability for instructors to customize own scenarios
  • Care plans structured to schools own format
  • Ability to shadow students on-lineStudents can create medication cards on-line
  • Online forum allows instructors to communicate with other instructors across the state or globe

Here’s the official SimEMR video product breakdown:

For more information or to schedule a webinar visit today!

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