Increasing Medical Simulation Program Utilization – HealthySimAdmin Video Series Part 7

healthcare simulation management

HealthySimAdmin was the world’s first broadcasted event providing an open and online discussion to share administrative solutions for the “how to” of medical simulation. During the live taping, more than 105 simulation program administrators from around the world participated in-person or online with the HealthySimAdmin panel of sim lab management experts from hospital, military, community college and university nursing programs, medical schools, EMS providers as well as medical simulation consultant groups to cover eight community-selected topics which included: Collaborative simulation program development, Funding sources & models, Faculty/educator buy-in, Research coordination, Daily operations, IT issues & support, Increasing utilization & Business development!

“Increasing Utilization”: How do you convince higher administration that your medical simulation program deserves additional funding, space, equipment and staff? How do you continue to increase services without frustrating staff or denying simulation champions? Allen Giannakopoulos, PhD shares with us how to expand simulation beyond the original scope of the program considering needs such as space, scheduling complications, financial support, technology issues, hiring new staff and more. Allen will then be joined by the HealthySimAdmin panel of experts to discuss how to increase usage in your simulation program, track and analyze statistical data to help gain additional support, modifying and transforming scheduling and procedural policies, overcoming resistance to program evolution as well as the differences in strategy necessary for short vs. long-term simulation program expansion. Audience question and answer period to follow lecture and panel discussion. With this session we will learn how to successfully grow a medical simulation lab program through various stages of development.



Session Presentation Lead By:

Allen J. Giannakopoulos, Ph.D.
Corporate Director, Baptist Health South Florida

Allen J. Giannakopoulos, Ph.D. is the Corporate Director for Reengineering and Redesign at Baptist Health South Florida in Miami, Florida. His duties include computer simulation of processes and scheduled events in clinical and business departments.  Dr. Giannakopoulos earned his academic credentials from the State University of New York in Brockport, BS in Business; University of Rochester, MBA in Business and Marketing; and his Ph.D. in Health Administration from Kennedy –Western in Sacramento.Dr. Giannakopoulos been published in over 50 health care journals and publications and has been a featured speaker and presenter over the past twenty years in health care, quality improvement, and simulation.Dr. Giannakopoulos has been working with computer modeling and simulations since the 1990’s, when basic tools were created.  Today, the most advanced computer simulation tools are used to mimic clinical processes and provide clinicians with information on how to view the patient experience as a whole, in addition to analyzing specific parts. Dr. Giannakopoulos worked with SSiH to survey members on their experiences in order to ascertain what the best practices are in creating, building, and sustaining a simulation center. This body of knowledge continues to be built for the benefit of organizations that are looking to construct their simulation center.

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7 Steps to Achieving Record Growth For Your Healthcare Simulation Program: Part 2

7 highest medical simulation articles

Last week we covered the first half of “7 Steps to Achieving Record Growth For Your Healthcare Simulation Program“, following our series of articles which cover the “business side” of selling the tool of simulation to higher levels of administration. Other topics from this series included the “Language of Sales – How to Increase Your Simulation Budget” and “3 Key Resources to Expand Your simulation Program“.

Today we finish up with the second half of steps necessary to be affective in starting or expanding your simulation program, with examples from my time as Director of the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas. In two years we were able to secure a quarter of a millions dollars in external business contracts providing simulation services to local, regional, and international groups. Miss the first part of this article, click here to start at the beginning which covers gaining support, building a program, and seizing opportunities.

4. Market Your Program

Once you have built a program plan that has potential to secure internal or external clients, your team will need to establish a marketing plan. First and foremost your department should Build a Medical Simulation Program Website, rich with multimedia. If available, work with your institution’s media department to help build and craft multimedia materials such as flyers, websites and pages, pictures, videos, and social media outlets. Learn more here about “How to Add Multimedia to Your Simulation Program“.

Designing effective marketing materials is a skill set that you or your team members may not naturally have at your disposal. There are countless resource materials for learning these skill sets such as 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, but suffice to say your messaging should be clear, coherent, simple, and professional. With print material, use a maximum of three different fonts, and three different colors. Provide critical course, event, or program details relevant to capturing interest and providing key details such as dates, times, links, abstracts, and learning opportunities. Simplify “learning objectives” to 9 words or less, and use both paragraph and bullet point text formats for key content. (Psychological studies have shown that some people will only read paragraphs in advertisements, while others will only read bullet points). Images help to tell a story as “pictures are worth a thousand words”. If that is true then video is worth a million — but only if it is done professionally without shakey cameras, bad audio, or confusing editing!

Test your marketing messages by showing it to colleagues for feedback, but remember that your customer will be your greatest asset when it comes to learning from your created materials. Check out an example of simulation training courses in this recent CSCLV flyer. Can you spot some areas for improvement? What catches your eye? What areas distract you? Be sure to include call to actions that demonstrate the limited availability of your program, cost saving registration deadlines, other incentives like discounts for groups or longer campaigns as well as next steps like online registration or email contact.

Don’t forget about Social Media in relevant professional domains like twitter, youtube, and LinkedIn. Social Media Overload: Simple Social Media Strategies For Overwhelmed and Time Deprived Businesses is a good primer on how to effectively utilize social media for your marketing campaigns.

Finally — attend regional or national conferences and share your marketing materials on available pin boards or tables for external users, or on department cafeteria signs, newsletters, or other group sharing events for internal users.

5. Provide Quality

Remember that internal and external users of your simulation program are in essence your “customers”. We all know what happens when we have a bad experience at a store, restaurant, or movie — we don’t return and we let others know about it. Providing a high quality event, course, or learning opportunity is a crucial part of building a simulation program. The more realistic your environments, the more tested your simulation scenarios, the better the food you serve, the easier the directions to your facility, the more people will enjoy your program and the happier they will be with the experience.

This kind of experience is crucial for step 6, but before we get there, consider the experience you are providing by “trying it on” and imaging yourself with no prior knowledge about the activity. Or better yet, act as a customer and trial run all the various systems in place for your program. What areas do you find lacking in service, quality, or professionalism? Every detail matters when it comes to satisfying the learners, groups, and individuals that come through your program. You or your leadership should sit in on some or all of the first programs to see how things are working and gain first hand experience on what needs to be improved.

6. Gather Feedback & Testimonials

This is one of the most important steps to building a long-term successful simulation program. By gathering direct honest feedback from your participants you will be better able to learn what went right, but more importantly, what went wrong. Try not to lead the witness but ask open ended questions on top of “scale of 1-5” questions that cover the most crucial aspects of the program. By quickly sharing this feedback with your team you can incorporate new solutions to address key problems.

While working in Hollywood I learned that during test screenings of new films, producers cared most about the question “Would you recommend this movie to your friends?”. This is a crucial question that ultimately demonstrates the value of your program because individuals will only encourage others to also participate if they feel it will add social value to their relationship status because of the benefits it will bring their colleagues. In other words, is your simulation program “share worthy”? Be ready to capture some of the feedback you receive to utilize as testimonials for future participants and program marketing. Obviously you will need to secure permission to share feedback as testimonials, so talk to your legal team to see what kind of waiver will suffice. Use these testimonials in your future marketing material design, as future users weigh such reviews more heavily than other types of messaging, simply because it reduces the risk of “going first”.

7. Learn, Improve and Grow

With honest feedback you can tweak your smaller programs for better efficiency and outcomes, preparing you for larger growth opportunities in the future. Those making investments into your program, whether its external users or the CEO of your hospital, will be moved farther faster with proven results with budgets already allocated. Becoming a cost-reduction program through improved learning and patient care outcomes enables you to increase budgets for future innovative practices. Dr. John “Voz” Vozenilek shared at SimGHOSTS 2016 USA during the EMS SimulationIQ sponsored keynote address how the Jump Trading Simulation Center is doing this very thing.

Other areas that will help your program grow are “Kaizen” Events To Increase Efficiency & Outcomes, the ability to negotiate with others to ensure maximum return on investment, and always being open to new opportunities. However, remember that after you have built a successful program, some smaller activities may no longer provide enough return on investment for your program’s growth to warrant the time and energy necessary to do such work. For example at the CSCLV, some UNLV students wanted to utilize the simulation center to film their senior project. We allowed them to use the space only to find out later they had damaged some equipment. Without insurance, we had to eat the cost of repairing that equipment with no value added to our center’s portfolio.

 

Hear what other simulation center directors have done to increase sales of their program’s services by watching the HealthySimAdmin series — free for HealthySimulation.com Newsletter Subscribers!

7 Steps to Achieving Record Growth For Your Healthcare Simulation Program: Part 1

growing a simulation program

This month we have been covering key business considerations your simulation teams needs to have in place to build or expand your program. Previous articles in this series include the “Language of Sales – How to Increase Your Simulation Budget” and “3 Key Resources to Expand Your simulation Program“.

In today’s article I share how as the Director of the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas, I was able to secure $250,000 in external business contracts in just two years. These additional funds helped the center hire additional staff and purchases new equipment. So, note that although this article focuses on external contracts, a lost of the materials presented here will also help you expand your simulation services to internal departments within your institution.

The discussion focuses on 7 key areas necessary to create a successful sales funnel for your simulation services, the first 3 of which we will cover today:

  1. Gaining support
  2. Building a program
  3. Seizing opportunities
  4. Marketing yourself
  5. Providing quality services
  6. Securing feedback
  7. Perfecting systems.

1. Gain Support

Before building an external simulation program, I knew I would need to gain the support of the executive leadership of our department to spend time and energy focusing on clients outside our internal stakeholders. At the CSCLV this leadership was the Deans of the collaborative schools sharing the space (all of whom were under the roof of the Nevada System of Higher Education UNLV, NSC, and UNSOM).

After our first year of utilization I was able to show the deans that our center’s spaces were not being utilized during many nights and weekends. This was followed up by the reminder of an opportunity to “rent” those spaces to groups that may be interested in training healthcare learners or being in a healthcare looking facility without actual patients. The deans agreed that an exploration of external business development could help to cover the costs not only for the staff time needed to manage those engagements, but additional staff time to help our own programs and also pay for new equipment in the future when needed.

The deans reminded me that I would need to get permission for a special account from the State system to take in revenue, and that I would need to generate a contract template for external users to protect the center — one that included a demand for proof of insurance by the external programs to cover any accidents. Following this I met with the Center’s legal support out of UNLV to address all of these concerns in-order to get the final sign off on starting an external program.

2. Build a Program

The most important thing to remember when starting the development of a new simulation program, internal or external, is to start small. By creating a successful program that is manageable and repeatable, your team can “rinse and repeat” on cruise control while reserving development energies for bigger projects. Remember that teams fatigue by new information, new processes, new technologies, and new systems. By aiming too high in the beginning, we risk exhausting ourselves and our programs. With a smaller program, we can be sure not to extend our resources too far too quickly and burn out. Remember, the longterm success of the program is the goal — and smaller steps will help us to build upon our achievements and ultimately move farther, faster.

This mindset helped our team pick our first external client, the ATLS course from the County Hospital next door. The group was looking for a new host to provide the space for the training, and store the materials necessary for the courses. Their educators would provide the training, and the local marketing. Our team would store their equipment, provide them space, provide additional marketing, and secure a small fee for our work.

This 2-day smaller program enabled our team to work through hundreds of issues that came up without overwhelming us from our “8 to 5” work for internal users of our simulation program. Items like catering, collecting payments, scheduling, contracts, and security concerns were addressed during the 2 months leading up to the first event. How we would deal with parking and directions to the room itself needed to be considered! Profits from this program were small at just about $1500 per weekend event.

Obviously we learned a great deal from the first program at the Center which we incorporated in future events (more on this later). The important thing to note here is that following this course we could now handle bigger, longer, and more expensive programs for external clients. Following this we launched simulation based training courses in partnership with an external consultant that lasted 4-5 days and required a great deal more support by our team for simulation experiences, marketing, and administration. Profits from these events increased to about $6,000 per event.

Following the successful completion of several such trainings, we were ready for multi-week programs with local hospitals and private schools that ended up generating $50,000+ contracts. Had we started from nothing to this high level of service I am sure we would have failed to provide high quality programs which are necessary to ensure supporting long-term relationships and positive testimonials, while minimizing staff stress levels.

3. Seize Opportunities

Consider what makes your simulation program special? What services can your team, center, program provide that internal stakeholders or external clients may need? Think small and think big: what local groups could benefit from ongoing long-term training engagements and what international groups would visit your center for one-off specialized training programs? What equipment does your program already have access to which is rare? Are you located in a travel destination?

The CSCLV is located in Las Vegas, which means that it can attract individuals from around the world that are interested in gaining necessary CEUs/CMUs while traveling to a fun location. What unique opportunities does your equipment, faculty, program, and city offer to potential clients?

Another benefit of Las Vegas is its close proximity to Hollywood, which helped Our Sim Center Have Its Most Profitable Day Ever. Production companies will pay big bucks to rent facilities that look like clinical locations but that don’t have real patients to worry about.

Knowing what you can offer local, regional, national, and international clients will enable you to identify and build programs which will speak to and attract new business to your program.

Are you interested in a deeper dive into these topics?

Check out the 8 recorded sessions from the HealthySimAdmin event for free after Subscribing to the HealthySim Monthly Newsletter!

*Update: Part 2 of this article series is now available, which provides us with 4 more insights necessary to grow your simulation program: Marketing, Delivery, Feedback and Growth!


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