How to Use Mobile Phones to Increase Healthcare Simulation Mobility

05/10/2016

How to Use Mobile Phones to Increase Healthcare Simulation Mobility

Blog post by SimGHOSTS President Scott Crawford

Cell phone confederate:

Communication from control room to standardized patients or confederates is important and often difficult to perform discretely. If a learner or case takes an unexpected turn, or a question is asked that is not known to those in the room, the ability to keep the case flowing smoothly and incorporate answers on-the-fly may be useful. “Voice from above” audio communications have been used successfully, but detract from the realism that we strive for.

Alternative communication devices can be used, including walkie-talkies with ear pieces similar to those used by secret service or security guards. This allows rapid communication and direct access to those in the room, but requires additional hardware and battery maintenance. These channels frequently will pick up other signals, which may limit their utility in metropolitan areas.

Current mobile phone technology can be utilized for this purpose as well, with the use of text messaging. A discrete message sent to a phone on vibrate may allow those in the control room to pass messages about case flow or modifications to the scenario direction without interrupting the immersion of the learners.

Wearable technology like a smart watch can assist with this type of updating as well. The Android and Apple smart watches are capable of displaying a brief text message with a subtle vibration to the wearer and the information can be viewed as casually as checking the time. This still has the requirement for additional hardware and battery considerations, but some faculty or operators within your center may already use them.

If your device is dead or you forgot it in your office, the car or at home, you can still send text messages using the control room computer or wifi-only tablet from any email client.

If you get your confederate’s cell phone number and wireless carrier in advance, you can send an email that will appear as a text message to the recipient. The email address for any cell phone number follows the format: [Recipient’s 10-digit cell phone number]@[carrier- specific suffix]. The included table shows some of the more common U.S. email address examples. Whatever text is typed into the subject field will be passed to the recipient as though it were a standard text message. Replies will be sent to the email address used.

Although not required for most simulation operators, knowing how to think outside the box is what makes you a better simulation specialist.