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.


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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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3 Key Resources to Expand Your Simulation Program

how to expand medical simluation program

Recently HealthySimulation.com started a discussion regarding the business of simulation with our article the “Language of Sales – How to Increase Your Simulation Budget”. In the article we explained how we as simulation champions must be prepared new skillsets to help advocate, expand, and finance the growth of our programs to higher levels of our institutional organizations.

Today we are going to share some must-read books that will help you gain valuable insights into communicating the opportunities of simulation to administrative leadership and c-suite executives.

The three key areas to focus on are selling, marketing, and networking:

To expand your simulation program you will first need to build a network of support, from community members, educators, innovators, managers, administrators, and executives. The work of building and maintaining a network should not be overlooked by the leadership of your simulation program. Connecting and building relationships with internal and external stakeholders will provide you the opportunity to gain support for your eventual expansion.

Marketing campaigns will be required to attract and educate those within your network about your services, needs, and achievements. Simulation program leadership should recognize the short and long-term value gained from physical and virtual tours, special events, speaking engagements, conference attendance and the like. Read our article on “How to Add Multimedia To Your Simulation Program Website” to gain more ideas here.

Next, you will need to learn how to convey your message of need in a way that successfully gains support from all stakeholders involved. A strategy will need to be created with tactics that utilize the strengths of your team and your supporters.

Not only do key individuals need to be identified, but their priorities and pain points as well. Who speaks to stakeholders, and how, is just as important as what is said. The priorities of a dean of a nursing school will be different from the priorities of a CNO. Having previous networks and relationships established is only the first step to gaining support for program expansions, and learning how to “sell” the concept of simulation is a core requirement for you and your team.

Lastly, you will need to be prepared to deal with eventual “Simulation Discomfiters, The Anti-Champions Who Frustrate Our Programs“. Having a plan for ways to communicate, and overcome, those that will avoid or discredit your program should be in place as your program plans to grow. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Of course, this is just the beginning of work necessary to create and maintain simulation expansion programs. Obviously you will also need some kind of business plan.

We will continue deeper dives into all these areas over the weeks to come, but for now — check out those additional books and articles!

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Sim Center Video of the Week: UA’s ASTEC

Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center also has a great video explaining the benefits of taking SimNewB on the road to train clinicians in pediatric emergencies.

The Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center (ASTEC) at The University of Arizona College of Medicine provides innovative collaborative learning opportunities for new students and seasoned practitioners alike, who learn, practice and assess their understanding of procedures in a high-tech, realistically simulated environment.

While medicine and technology have advanced rapidly over the past decades, the approach to medical education has remained largely unchanged for more than 100 years.

ASTEC is on the forefront of an exciting effort to transform medical training and reduce medical errors. As part of the UA College of Medicine, the center is committed to the creation, teaching and practice of the medicine of tomorrow.”

Learn more about ASTEC through their website and sim center tour at their website: University of Arizona: ASTEC.


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2010 Healthcare Simulation Article Review:

Hey Sim Champs!

I have summarized the key articles of 2010 so that all you new members can catch up on all the best from HealthySimulation.com!

To make sure you don’t miss any amazing articles for 2011, be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter – highlighting all the best from HealthySimulation.com!

Start the Presses! Getting Attention to Your Sim Program.

Check out this great new article about the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas:

Do you have press knocking at the door to your Sim Labs? The benefits for working with the media are huge! In this article we will discuss:

-Why press coverage is so crucial for a developing Simulation program.
-How to secure media attention for your Medical Simulation program.
-Important steps to take when dealing with press and critical mistakes to avoid!

Click here to read more….


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