UT, ProMedica announce advanced $36 million simulation center

October 26, 2011 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk



ProMedica and The University of Toledo will commit to the development of a new $36 million Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center that will enable students and clinicians to use cutting-edge technology to allow teams to learn, enhance outcomes, and improve patient safety in a simulated, low-risk environment.

Roy Schneider, medical illustrator in the Center for Creative Instruction, demonstrated the education and research capabilities of I-Space, a four-walled room that projects 3-D images of parts of the human anatomy. The technology will be an important component of a UT and ProMedica joint venture to build a three-story Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center.

Working with the University’s economic development arm, Innovation Enterprises, UT and ProMedica have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the facility. The Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center will be housed in a new three-story facility slated to open in 2012 next to UT’s Center for Creative Education Building on Health Science Campus.

The center will be among the first health-science campuses in the nation to incorporate I-Space — a four-sided virtual immersive room with 3-D computer-aided design walls. This technology can create unlimited number of virtual images that allow learners to travel through the heart of a human body or experience being inside a human blood cell.

The new facility will be unique in that it will be comprised of three integrated simulation centers: a progressive anatomy and surgical skills center, an advanced simulation center, and the virtual immersive reality center. Typically, academic health centers offer only one type of simulation center.

“The Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center is a giant leap forward in our effort to set the national bar for clinical education and research,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, UT chancellor and executive vice president for biosciences and health affairs.

“Looking forward, health care will increasingly rely on teams of clinicians from different disciplines working together to achieve the best patient outcomes. This center will enable learners to use the most advanced technology available to practice working in teams at the same time they are advancing their clinical skills,” said Gold, who also serves as dean of the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

Randy Oostra, president and CEO for ProMedica, said the partnership would help ensure better patient outcomes as doctors, nurses, therapists and all health-care providers will be better prepared as they enter the work force.

“These advanced simulation technologies make it possible to create virtual clinical environments for health professionals to practice individually and in teams, using realistic human patient simulation models and immersive virtual three-dimensional environments,” Oostra said. “The result will be reduced errors, increased safety, improved outcomes, enhanced efficiencies and an overall reduction of health-care costs.”

Additionally, Gold and Oostra said the center will serve as a venue where health-care professionals will establish collaborative relationships to foster innovation in research, and develop new and existing products and services that help improve the human condition, prevent diseases and enhance healing.

Dr. Pamela Boyers, senior adviser to the chancellor for the advancement of interprofessional education and executive director for simulation, has spent the last 18 months at UT building the University’s simulation technology and now has a fully operational pilot version of the center, where learners, technicians and faculty will train in preparation for the grand opening of the UT/ProMedica joint venture in 2012.

“This virtual immersive reality technology enables students, practitioners and researchers to gain a better understanding of organs, diseases and treatment processes, including the potential of seeing real patient information such as MRIs and CAT scans in 3-D space,” Boyers said. “It will more effectively tie an understanding of human anatomy and physiology to patient care and offer unprecedented opportunities for innovation in learning, teaching, research and clinical practice.”