High stakes: why clinicians should train like pilots

In the 1920s, the very first flight simulator was built by Edwin Link. One hundred years on, you would need to encounter 5.3 million commercial flights to find one fatal accident.


The airline industry, much like healthcare, relies on a constant pursuit of excellence, perfection and an error rate approaching 0%. The aviation industry has pushed the boundaries of flight simulators to improve fidelity and efficacy and ensure pilots can practise the highly technical processes in the context of realistic, emotive scenarios.


Sound familiar? If you’ve ever used the Re:course platform, you’ll notice a striking similarity. And that is, quite literally, by design.


Engineering clinical intelligence

The process of patient assessment through to treatment is highly technical and the more complex the situation, the harder it is to train. Much like thundering turbulence or an engine failure, practicing high stakes patient scenarios is as difficult as it is crucial.


One potential solution is high fidelity conversational AI, enabling clinicians to safely achieve clinical intelligence without patient harm. Challenging situations like breaking bad news, disclosing a mistake and assessing capacity require both the external patient interface and the internal emotional regulation needed with real encounters- learning from slides just doesn’t do it justice. Not to mention, learning from a simulation is much more engaging and if you’re having fun during the learning process, it’s much more effective.


And just like flight simulators, it should feel like there are real consequences to mistakes. It’s one of the main concerns we hear about digital avatars - until clinicians try our platform and hear the conversation, see the facial expressions and feel the weight of their words.


Challenging situations like breaking bad news, disclosing a mistake and assessing capacity require both the external patient interface and the internal emotional regulation needed with real encounters- learning from slides just doesn’t do it justice.

Nosediving error rates

Experiential learning isn’t the only value of simulations: the real supercharging comes from harnessing the power of data. Training pilots is a constant cycle of practice, measuring and evaluation, using data to focus on areas of improvement and compare whole cohorts.


Taking inspiration from world-leading educational platforms could present key insights, performance data and feedback in a usable format. Even better, it would greatly facilitate progress over time enabling clinicians to identify performance trends in the short and long term. It would also allow institutions to access essential learning metrics and embed them into learning curricula, identifying areas of weakness in the cohort and supporting those whose performance falls below the curve.


Rapid upskilling

When Edwin Link built the first flight simulator, his only customers were amusement parks. Then came World War II and, suddenly, the demand for new pilots had skyrocketed. Simulation enabled the pilots to accelerate competence without the high fatality rate associated with pre-simulation pilot training. Given what we know about the outcome of WWII, clearly this worked.


In healthcare we’re experiencing our own demand - current predictions suggest the US 200,000 new nurses a year just to make up the shortfall [1], whilst the WHO estimates a global workforce shortage of 15 million by 2030. Trying to engage, upskill and accelerate on that scale is going to take something special.


And here we are, ready to help.


Take a look at how we can help your healthcare organisation here.



[1] https://onlinenursing.duq.edu/post-master-certificates/shortage-of-healthcare-workers/