By Adam Blakeman, Keele University
NHS professionals across the country are benefiting from new interactive training simulations that have been developed with academics at Keele University.
Commissioned by NHS England, the Personalised Care Institute (PCI) has created simulations in collaboration with Keele to enable clinicians to practice their shared decision-making skills with patients in a risk-free environment before applying them in real clinical settings.
The simulations are based around a series of lifelike simulated patient consultations which are broken down into three distinct parts, with scenarios including an in-person consultation about osteoarthritis, and a remote consultation by telephone with a father concerning his son’s sore throat.
Multiple choice questions are used to provide a structured interaction between the healthcare professional and the on-screen animated patient character, and comprehensive feedback is provided at the end of each exercise, with users able to put their learnings to the test through repeat use.
The team at Keele were heavily involved in developing the technical and visual element of the simulations and creating the on-screen dialogues.
Dr Jessica Thompson, Lecturer in Clinical and Professional Practice at Keele University, said: “There is a strong drive towards person-centred care which ensures people are given more control and choice when it comes to decisions about their care. Everyone has different preferences, beliefs and values and these should be explored to understand what matters to each individual.
“Shared decision making is a skill and therefore practice is key. The simulations we have helped to develop are a fantastic way for healthcare professionals of any discipline to develop and practice their skills and improve their confidence in having consultations which support patients to get more involved in decisions about their care.
“The simulations really drive home the importance of providing care that is respectful and responsive to patients – which is what we teach our students on a daily basis.”
Dr Emma Hyde, clinical director of the PCI, said: “We know that shared decision-making leads to better outcomes for patients, with nine out of 10 healthcare professionals stating it should be used routinely and seven out of 10 expressing a desire to learn more about this vitally important personalised care approach.
“Not only will this training equip health and care professionals with the shared decision-making skills and knowledge needed to deliver the very best health outcomes for patients, it will also address the growing desire amongst the general public for greater involvement in key decisions that inform their healthcare.”