Highlights from the Australasian Simulation Congress


By SimGHOSTS Training and Events Director Kirrian Steer

Recently I attended the Australasian Simulation Congress, Simulation Australasia’s primary event that brings together the entire simulation industry. The program highlighted developments in military simulation, aviation simulation, serious games and of course, healthcare simulation.

As I expected, a lot of the demonstrations and presentations featured virtual reality (VR). Recent price reductions in both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have contributed to a surge in the popularity of VR and will undoubtedly see a sharp increase in the uptake of VR as a training tool. It may have taken me until the last day, but I did manage to experience the incredible Earthlight by Opaque Space, which was the winner of the Industry category of the Serious Games Challenge. The Indie category was won by Boxhead Productions for Minda - Fun With Feelings, a game designed for adults with intellectual disabilities.

A strong theme that carried through the event for me was that of teamwork. It started with the opening plenary by Professor Eduardo Salas where he presented his top ten highlights in over 30 years of researching teams. The SimHealth Plenary on day two was a panel chaired by Dr Cathy Smith and was titled “Can we all just get along? Perspectives on teams and simulation-based interprofessional education. During the session, Professor Debra Nestel raised an interesting observation that workplace performance and incentives are largely based on individual performance measures with very few, if any, measures of team performance. I spent the rest of the day contemplating ways to incentivise team behaviour in healthcare settings.

Professor Victoria Brazil chaired a panel presentation on in-situ simulation that was also rich in thought-provoking material. The role of real patients in in-situ sim was raised, as well as in-situ sim for general practice or family medicine settings. Dylan Campher discussed the concept of healthcare as a complex adaptive system and how this can help to inform future health practice and training. At many times during this presentation I was reminded of a book I read late last year - Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Gen. Stanley McChrystal (Published May 2015). In one of the chapters, McChrystal discussed how during a complex military operation, seconding individuals from one team to another lead to much better communication and collaboration between different teams. Even at the time of reading it I wondered if this would be effective in improving teamwork between teams within an organization such as a hospital. Each team manager nominated one of their best performers to be seconded, as they wanted to make a good impression on the other team. This meant that the receiving team gained a highly knowledgeable and experienced individual who could benefit their team. Over a period of weeks or months, new relationships would develop and the seconded individual would gain a much greater understanding of the work and challenges of the other team, which would be taken back to their regular team at the end of the secondment. By repeating this throughout the year each team developed relationships and knowledge that extended across the organization and were able to identify ways that they could modify their own operations to improve outcomes and also ways to support or collaborate with other teams to improve organizational outcomes.

In 2018 Simulation Australasia will hold a program of smaller symposia and then return with the 2019 Australasian Simulation Congress from September 2-5 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.