3 questions to ask when buying a patient simulator

Buying a patient simulator is an important investment which can have a significant impact on patient safety. They can cost tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds, which at face value seems expensive.

However, when you factor in the potential cost of litigation for clinical negligence (the average NHS litigation claim is £225,000), staff retention and the reputation of your organisation, it is money well spent.

If you're the person/team responsible for deciding which patient simulator to purchase, you have a big responsibility. You need to make sure you invest wisely and get the most value for money.

To help you, here are 3 questions to ask when buying a patient simulator:

 QUESTION ONE

Is it the right patient simulator for the job?

The most commonly used patient simulators are adult male; female birthing simulators; and paediatric simulators.

So often I meet customers with a limited budget who purchase a male simulator with the intention of occasionally using it for birthing scenarios, for example.

Firstly, you have to ask yourself, is this the best option? What scenarios are going to provide the best return on investment?

If I told you 50% of NHS litigation claims are related to obstetrics at a cost of £2.5 billion per year, you might consider buying a birthing simulator and using it as a non-pregnant patient instead of a male.

A good sales representative will usually find a solution to this problem, or at least help you justify your decision.

 

QUESTION TWO

Does my patient simulator need all the bells and whistles?

Features and tech sell simulators - flashing lights and fancy gadgets naturally attract buyers. However, do they truly help you achieve your objectives? Do you know what your objectives are?

Think about what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. Again, use the knowledge of your sales representative. Ask what has worked for their other customers. Read reports from industry bodies such as ASPiH, and ask your faculty and staff about gaps in their knowledge and skills.

The patient simulator best equipped to meet your objectives is not necessarily the most feature-heavy and expensive model.

Most simulator manufacturers offer 2-3 models of the same simulator. For example, the latest TERi™ Androgynous Geriatric Trainer is configured as either:

 

  1. TERi™ Geriatric Patient Care Trainer for general nurse training and activities of daily living;
  2. TERi™ Geriatric Patient Skills Trainer with clinical skills such as IV, catheterisation and cardiovascular & respiratory support;
  3. TERi™ Geriatric Patient Simulator comprehensive simulation platform including patient monitoring.

Remember, there is a specific user in mind when each configuration is designed. Be sure to match your needs to the right specification. If you need help, ask your sales representative.

 

QUESTION THREE

Will I be supported after the patient simulator sale?

Training in how to use your simulator effectively is essential to the success of your simulation programme.

Many companies will charge for initial training - Sim & Skills do not. When you purchase a high fidelity simulator, such as ALEX or TERi, we will provide initial training FREE of charge.

Warranty - All manufacturers will offer a standard one-year warranty. Furthermore, most will offer the option to extend the warranty for a fee. Our advice is to carefully calculate the real cost of that warranty.

Most importantly, if you're not extending the warranty ask about out-of-warranty assessment fees. Beware, some companies will charge you just to tell you what the problem is, and then again to fix it!

You get a FREE 5-year warranty with all Life/form® products. The majority of Simulaids® brand products include a FREE 3-year warranty.

Don't worry, Sim & Skills do not charge assessment fees for repairs.

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