Blog Posts

Articles about Pharmacy Simulator, simulation best-practices, and pharmacy education.

Scholarship applications opened

Date: 11th June 2019, Author: Ivan Bindoff

Pharmacy Simulator has now launched into early access, but we acknowledge that not every organisation will be able to commit to a purchase right now. At the same time, we also acknowledge that we have limited launch content in some regions.

To address these issues, we're making a number of scholarships available to qualifying pharmacy schools who can demonstrate need, and who can commit to writing at least 10 scenarios for their students over the next 12 months.

To apply, click on the link below and fill out the application form. Your application will be assessed on need and merit as soon as possible. If we determine your organisation is a good fit, we'll provide a 12 month subscription to Pharmacy Simulator for all your students and faculty, free of charge.

Apply now. Applications close at the end of August.

Don't forget, you can always purchase your Pharmacy Simulator subscription outright, and we are currently running an early access launch discount of 30% off - use code "EARLYADOPTER" at checkout!

Featured Article - Pharmacy Simulator: New Serious Game with Infinite Scenario Opportunities

Date: 29th May 2019, Author: Ivan Bindoff

Pharmacy Simulator Banner

Healthysimulation.com has kindly published an article about our recent launch of Pharmacy Simulator. Check out the healthysimulation.com website to read all the latest news from the simulation-based education community, and while you're there, read what Lance had to say about Pharmacy Simulator.

Check out the article.

Our design philosophy, and planning for the future

Date: 28th Nov 2018, Author: Ivan Bindoff

At Imitated Environments we design our products not just to solve the problem at hand, but to also solve problems we predict may arise in the future. This approach has some additional upfront cost, but pays dividends down the track.

The best example of this is the Simulation Platform our products are built upon. This is a generic set of tools and features that enable the creation of simulated learning experiences. They are, by design, entirely agnostic to the content that you may choose to develop using them. Everything is also developed in such a way that it can be readily extended or adjusted to meet a specific need.

Pharmacy Simulator is built upon the Simulation Platform. It then extends the platform with a suite of Pharmacy specific tools. Examples of this would be the features of the dispensing computer, and the prescriptions system. The core features: dialog, scoring, feedback, scenario editing/sharing are all part of the underlying Simulation Platform, requiring only minor modifications/extensions to suit the Pharmacy use-case.

This design philosophy positions us well to expand our business into new product lines down the track, once we're confident that our launch products are in a good place. We can pursue opportunities to develop simulation-based training packages for a whole range of potential professional disciplines (i.e. other healthcare professions such as medicine, nursing, or even entirely different professions such as retail, teaching, or management). Leveraging the Simulation Platform, we will be able to develop and deliver these new products far more rapidly than would otherwise be possible.

This philosophy extends into our approach at content (scenario) creation, where we focus more on providing tools for our users to generate content, rather than developing the content in house.

During our years of research in this space, we noticed that most simulation software packages have a very limited set of educational content at launch, and this is rarely expanded over time. Consequently, software-based simulations tend to have a short shelf life, with the content being too limited, and quickly becoming out of date.

This issue tends to arise because the cost of developing content is too high. You need to pay both software developers AND content experts to collaboratively develop the content, and there are significant overheads to this type of collaboration. Few organisations are willing to make this investment just to get a few new scenarios.

In contrast, with our approach, the cost of developing and distributing content is very low. A sufficiently motivated educator can - with only a little training - do it themselves, using the tools provided within the software. They can then share this content, for the benefit of both their own and other students in the broader community. If best-practice changes, or issues are found, the scenario can also be edited and updated very easily.

This approach ensures that our products are constantly supported by a stream of new and updated scenarios. It also allows us to support students internationally, with customised or tailored content for the various regions, to reflect best-practice and professional regulations within that region.

There's always work yet to be done, and lessons yet to be learned, but we believe these design philosophies will help our simulation products survive and thrive for the long term, and we look forward to having you join us as we set out on this exciting journey.

Pharmacy Simulator - Backed by Research

Date: 22nd Nov 2018, Author: Ivan Bindoff

Pharmacy Simulator was developed and tested in the University environment, and has been carefully evaluated and researched throughout its development.

The project began to meet a need: the University of Tasmania Pharmacy department was having some difficulty finding enough placement sites for their growing student cohort. It was looking increasingly likely that student placement hours would have to decrease in the future, so there was a need to develop a suitable replacement for that experience.

To meet this need we developed and trialled a prototype simulated community pharmacy game, and evaluated it by comparing the software simulation to a “traditional” paper-based simulation exercise.

Through this evaluation, we determined that students using the computer simulation achieved generally greater improvements in their clinical knowledge, and were more confident in their history taking and patient counselling competencies. Additionally, the computer simulation was considered more fun and engaging. You can read more about this research in the paper we published at the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.

After seeing these promising results, we decided to invest in further development and improvements, and continued our research to better understand how students responded to the simulator.

We did a subsequent analysis that compared the computer simulation against both paper-based and actor-based “standardised patients”. In this analysis we performed a qualitative analysis that looked at the factors that students liked and disliked about each simulation modality.

In this evaluation, participants reported similarly high levels of satisfaction with each simulation approach, but each approach was found to have unique positive and negative characteristics. For example, the computer-based simulation was praised for being self-directed, fun, allowing repetition, interactive, and providing immediate and detailed feedback. However, it was criticised for having relatively limited options available, and having technological hurdles to overcome. Actors were praised for allowing detailed communication skill practice and facilitating reflective learning, but were criticised for having delayed feedback and creating a heightened sense of anxiety and nervousness in the student. You can read more about this research in the paper we published in the Simulation in Pharmacy special issue of the Pharmacy journal published by MDPI.

During the design of our improved version, we also published aspects of our motivations and design brief. Although we have made considerable leaps in our technology since then, this early foundational paper published at the ITCH conference, can be seen on ResearchGate.

More recently, an evaluation was performed by an honours student at the University of Tasmania who sought to determine whether Pharmacy Simulator was viable as a tool for training pharmacists to deal with potentially dangerous situations. He made available 3 scenarios that focused on how to handle violent or confronting situations that can arise in the community pharmacy setting. This included handling a pseudoephedrine abuser, a codeine abuser, and an armed robbery attempt.

The scenarios were made available to both current pharmacy students and practicing pharmacy professionals. His research found that 88% of users agreed that the simulation was a good way to learn how to improve patient counselling, and an almost unanimous 97% thought it was a good way to learn how to deal with potentially dangerous situations.

Conclusions

What we have concluded after conducting research and development over the past several years, is that although our simulation approach is not without its own flaws, it can fill an important gap in pharmacy education.

  • It is effective for, and enjoyed by, both pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists.
  • It allows the learner to repeatedly experiment with the simulated patient and gradually refine their skills, in a way that other simulation approaches cannot match.
  • It can be played anywhere and anytime.
  • It allows students to experience a broader range and scope of scenarios than they could reasonably be exposed to during scheduled class times.

For these reasons we believe that Pharmacy Simulator is a must have tool for educational institutions that teach pharmacy practice, and for organisations that provide continuing education to pharmacists.