By Debbie Gregory.
The Simulation Learning, Education and Research Network (SimLEARN) is the VHA’s program for simulation in health care training. Serving the largest integrated health care system in the world, SimLEARN provides an ever-growing body of curricula and best practices that improve health care for our nation’s veterans.
Soon, the calm water and glistening sand of Heroes’ Beach will be welcoming veterans. They can pull up a beach chair, and enjoy one of the many large, crackling bonfires.
Each bonfire will have a sign posted in front of them: diabetes, asthma, PTSD. A veteran can pick one and sit around with a group of friends and chat. Sometimes, a health provider will join in on the discussion.
The best part of Heroes’ Beach is that veterans will get the health information they need without leaving the comfort of their homes. Because Heroes’ Beach is virtual.
While still in its infancy, Heroes’ Beach is already a year in the making. After beta testing has been completed, the project could be up and running in a year or two, with 3D graphics that are comparable to today’s high-quality games.
After logging in, veterans will be able to see their electronic health records, search for medical information, talk to a virtual medical adviser, and if that avatar isn’t helpful, they can do a live e-consult with a physician.
“You can see how it speaks to the younger generation of our veterans, because they are doing social media and online banking. They’re doing mobile phones and mobile apps and using iPads. They’re gamers. So this technology really brings health care to that modality for them,” said Manny Dominguez, Employee Education System deputy chief learning officer at the VA Simulation Center.
Dominguez, a former marine with a Ph.D. in education technologies, came up with the idea of Heroes’ Beach as a virtual hospital.
While not intended to replace brick and mortar hospitals, the virtual-hospital-in-the-making is one of the first of its kind.
“Veterans get to go visit the VA, without having to go visit the VA,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. “It’s an environment that’s generally familiar to them and they’re able to explore. It puts the veteran in control, and they can do it in a comfortable way.”
After all, what could be better than a day at the beach?
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Toes in the Sand at Heroes’ Beach: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory