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!


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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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The Language of Sales – How to Increase Your Simulation Budget

how to start using healthcare simulation

This summer I had two fantastic engagements that focused on helping simulation champions increase their program, by gaining additional financial support through considering the language of sales when dealing with administrators.

First was at the Global Network for Simulation in Healthcare meeting in Oxford last month which continued the work started by previous participants to identify and create a tool set for helping simulation champions convey the opportunities of simulation to administrators. Look out for industry-changing content from this group in the next twenty-four months.

The second was at the amazing SimulationIQ Platinum Sponsored SimGHOSTS 2016 USA event, during the SimNEXT sponsored keynote address by Jump Trading Simulation Center’s Director and CMO Dr. John Vozenilek, who demonstrated how their simulation program was seen as a cost-reduction center for the OSF Healthcare hospital.

While this conversation is not new to the world of healthcare simulation, in fact we covered it extensively in 2012 during the HealthySimAdmin event which you can watch here, the conversation has definitely evolved to become a primary concern of simulation program directors and industry partners around the world.

To grow your simulation program, the concept is simple:

To increase your simulation program you will need increased financial and institutional resources, and to do that, you need to gain the support of the highest level administrators possible from your organization. So how do you successful start and maintain that conversation with institutional leadership so they become as impassioned about simulation as you are? As clinicians, researchers, educators, administrators, and technology specialists, we may not have the learned the tools necessary to convey this message in a way that can be heard by the other side.

As a documentary film-maker I learned at an early age that I need to craft my message in a way that can be understood by the audience. If they cannot understand parts of my message, or they are missing context, or don’t have a chance to build the right frame of mind — then my efforts would not translate into the understanding the audience was willing to consume. When it comes to marketing, the first thing I read was that “no one cares about your problems, they only care about their own”.

In that reality, we need to start our campaign to increase simulation not from our perspective, but from the perspective of the highest level administrators we will need to participate in-order to move the program forward in a big way. The question then becomes: What are their priorities, their needs, and most importantly their problems? Usually, the priorities in healthcare education are for maximum learner pass rates and in professional healthcare for increased quality of care with minimal costs. BOTH groups usually share the same primary problem: finances.

With this knowledge we can begin to speak to organizational leadership within the right frame to capture their attention, provide solutions, and create big wins.

Well as healthcare simulation champions we are comfortable with learning a new language, of being early-adopters and challenging the status quo with innovative practices, equipment and programs. We too must also challenge ourselves to also learn the “language of sales” to help those around us see what we see: that simulation improves efficiency and quality, while ultimately reducing costs.

Each week over the next month I will share a book, website, movie, or other resource that can you speak this “language of sales” in an effort to increase your opportunity to expand your simulation program. Topics will include why and how to craft “an elevator pitch”, how to identify key stakeholders and their priorities, sales messaging, and relationship building.

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